The 27 EU governments on Monday agreed to tighten border restrictions for travellers entering the bloc, including requiring proof of negative COVID-19 tests not more than 72 hours before departure.
This also applies to travellers who came to the bloc on journeys deemed essential, such as for urgent family or professional reasons.
Non-essential travel is already largely banned, although exceptions apply to EU citizens or their family members.
However, if tests prior to departure are not possible, travellers should be allowed to do the test on arriving in the bloc, according to the recommendation.
The recommendation, which still has to be adopted in writing, is non-binding.
It is up to the member states to come up with their own regulations.
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So far, a host of countries already require tests prior to departure, including the Netherlands and France.
For regions where new variants have been detected, member states should impose mandatory quarantine requirements and additional testing upon arrival, the recommendations stipulate.
In recent months, the EU has sought to coordinate its approach to travel restrictions but has not always succeeded in doing so.