European Union to decide to which 'safe countries' external borders will be opened

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 1, 2020

The EU executive spelled out on Thursday (11 June) recommendations to member states to fully reopen the bloc's internal borders on 15 June and then allow travellers from selected countries to enter the bloc from 1 July. The EU Council said that member states "should not decide to lift the travel restrictions for non-listed third countries before this has been decided in a coordinated manner".

China has also been provisionally approved as the 15th name on the list, but travel will only be allowed if Beijing also allows in European Union travellers.

The 27-member organisation, however, sidelined United States from its pilot list, citing safety concerns related to COVID-19.

The EU procedure to formalize the list, and criteria by which countries are judged safe or not, are to be finalized by midday on Tuesday.

Travelers from other hard-hit countries such as Brazil, Russia, and India will also be barred from traveling to the bloc when its external borders reopen Wednesday.

Croatia, which now holds the EU's rotating presidency, requested that countries offer feedback by Saturday at 1600 GMT, with hopes the matter could then be put to a vote among the 27 member states.

Some southern countries in the European Union such as Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to welcome back tourists for the summer season to kick-start their ailing economies but splits reportedly remained over keeping a balance between economic growth and maintaining control of Covid-19.

"Travel restrictions may be totally or partially lifted or reintroduced for a specific third country already listed according to changes in some of the conditions and, as a outcome, in the assessment of the epidemiological situation".

The EU said China is "subject to confirmation of reciprocity", meaning Beijing must also lift restrictions on European travelers before being added to the safe list.

The overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information, including on aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).

The EU said that its list is not etched in stone and that its list of countries will be reviewed every two weeks.

European Union envoys to Brussels have launched a written procedure which would see the list endorsed Tuesday as long as no objections are raised by member countries.

Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation.

In Brussels, EU headquarters underlined that the list "is not a legally binding instrument" which means the 31 governments can apply it as they see fit.

The Czech Republic has banned visitors from Portugal and Spain from entering the country.

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