EU reaches provisional deal on reopening borders — to fewer than 20 countries

EU reaches provisional deal on reopening borders — to fewer than 20 countries

EU diplomats Friday reached a provisional deal on the criteria to determine which non-EU counties to allow into the bloc when it opens its borders from July 1 — and the United States wouldn’t make the cut.

The diplomats decided to open up to countries that have a coronavirus infection rate that is equal to or lower than the EU average over the last two weeks per 100,000 inhabitants, three diplomats told media. In addition to the infection rate, Brussels will also evaluate if the trend has been increasing or decreasing, and look at a country’s handling of the epidemic and the reliability of data.

The first iteration of the list includes 19 countries: Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the Vatican — and China.

Countries will have to permit EU citizens to enter in order for their citizens to be allowed to travel to the EU from July 1, when external borders are expected to reopen. In the case of China, travel could resume even before July 1 as long as Beijing applies this condition of “reciprocity,” one diplomat said.

As previously indicated by diplomats, the U.S. is not on the list, which the Commission has requested capitals finalize by July 1.

Washington is in talks with European capitals and the EU on how to reopen busy transatlantic routes, but it did not feature on two earlier provisional lists EU diplomats drew up. The initial lists had 47 and 54 countries.

The final list will be updated every two weeks to account for developments, the diplomats agreed.

National capitals have the authority to decide which non-EU citizens to let in, but the bloc hopes a coordinated approach could help the Continent’s recovery.

Consultations will continue over the weekend, a second diplomat said, adding that from Monday, EU member states will be asked to give their consent in writing — with a qualified majority necessary to adopt the criteria.

Separately, another Council document features an updated list of categories of essential reasons for travel, which allow for entry into the EU regardless of the country of origin or departure.

The list includes essential staff such as care workers and seasonal agricultural workers; diplomats, aid workers and similar; seafarers and transit passengers; people traveling to obtain international protection or for other humanitarian reasons; people traveling for the purpose of study; and highly qualified workers on the condition that “their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.”

Pic Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Europe.svg

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