Ireland will this week contribute to discussions at EU level that will begin to look at easing restrictions on non-essential travel.

The European Commission has today proposed that member states ease the current restrictions on travel into the EU to take account of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide.

Ireland will participate in these discussions but as the country is not part of the Schengen travel area it would not be bound by any final recommendation.

The Commission is proposing to lift restrictions on vaccinated people travelling into the EU if they have been vaccinated at least 14 days before arrival.

There is also a proposal to expand the list from which travel into the EU should be allowed by raising the threshold on the number of Covid cases used to determine this list.

The Commission said in a statement: "The (European) Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine."

"This could be extended to vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process. In addition, the Commission proposes to raise... the threshold related to the number of new Covid-19 cases used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be permitted," it also said.

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The new system would have an "emergency brake" mechanism that would allow Member States to act quickly and impose restrictions on countries where coronavirus variants suddenly emerge.

The next step in the process will see technical discussions on these proposals tomorrow and the matter would then be examined by EU ambassadors on Wednesday.

The final decision rests with the European Council.

The indications from Government here are that any new system on non-essential travel into the EU might take a month or more to finalise.

Last Thursday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that as he looked to July and beyond, he wanted to see aviation, tourism and all hospitality businesses back doing "what they do better than anyone else on earth".

Additional reporting Fergal Bowers