Following a European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, at which Chancellor Merkel repeated her call for a united EU front to dissuade UK visitors, President Macron said that France would fall into line with Germany.

This would mean introducing a quarantine regime for all UK passport holders arriving from the UK, with few exceptions. However, no details have been announced as yet.

Mrs Merkel said: “Even though there is reason to be hopeful, the pandemic isn’t over – in particular in the world’s poor countries. But in Germany and Europe, we’re also still moving on thin ice.

“We need to remain vigilant. In particular, the newly arising variants, especially now the Delta variant, are a warning for us to continue to be careful.”

For his part, Macron said: “We must all be vigilant because the much-talked-about Delta variant is coming, which spreads much more rapidly than the other variants and affects people who are not vaccinated or who only have had one dose.”

He added that the EU needs to “be really taking coordinated decisions in terms of opening of borders to third countries”. The UK is now a third country as far as the EU is concerned.

While almost all new cases of coronavirus in the UK are of the Delta variant, formerly known as the Indian variant, in France the proportion of new cases involving the variant has jumped from under five percent to 10 percent within the course of seven days. A number of French epidemiologists have said that it is a question of a few weeks until the same scenario will be found in France, with almost all new cases from the Delta variant.

There is consensus in Europe and the UK that the only way to deal with a new wave of infections is to inoculate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. In that race between vaccination and a new wave, the UK remains far ahead. The government has a target of jabbing all over-18s by July 19, and two-thirds of all adults with a second dose by the same date.

The biggest obstacle in the UK’s way is the fact that many residents of the areas most-affected by the Indian variant are less likely to want to be jabbed and are also more susceptible to the disease. It remains to be seen if this can be overcome.

In France, by June 24, 48 percent of the population had received a first jab, while 27.9 percent of the population had received both doses.

The Delta/Indian variant will soon be the continent’s problem, with or without British input.

PHOTO: President Macron in Paris on June 24. Reuters