Diplomats, who were not allowed to discuss the issue until the 27 EU member states reached an agreement, confirmed to CNN that EU governments had until Tuesday noon from the list of 15 countries allowed to enter.
On the proposed list of 15 nations is China, where the virus originates. However, the EU will only offer entry to China on the condition of reciprocal arrangements. The other 14 countries are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.
As widely anticipated, the United States – where the coronavirus is reappearing – will not be on this list.
The list is included in a set of EU Council recommendations to member states, which define the criteria that countries must meet before their nationals are allowed to enter the block and the methodology to meet these criteria. This requires that countries allowed to enter have coronavirus infection rates equal to or higher than those in the EU.
Border control is ultimately decided by each member state rather than at EU level in Brussels. But EU officials hope the implementation of the recommendations will mean that member states will reopen their borders in the process.
Europe closed its external border in March after the bloc saw its COVID-19 infection rates increase exponentially.
The United States now has the highest number of confirmed infections and the highest number of deaths caused by COVID-19 of any country in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Diplomats said it was “highly unlikely” that the framework would be changed any time soon, which would mean a dramatic reversal in the US infection rate if it were to be factored into any future decision. The EU is expected to review the decision every two weeks.
Member States are expected to approve the list and guidelines by qualified majority on Tuesday, rather than by unanimous decision.
A qualified majority requires that 15 of the 27 Member States vote for. The directives should be opaque and open to interpretation in some areas, as at least three member states have expressed reluctance to open the borders, diplomats said.
EU officials were quick to point out that the decisions on who can and cannot get into the bloc are not political, but based on scientific data that allow member states to keep their security safe. citizens. These officials are, however, preparing for the reaction of US President Donald Trump, who has already said very critical things about the EU and may consider the decision politically motivated.
However, as another EU diplomat previously explained to CNN, “you can certainly see that not being on the list as something political, when one country is allowed to enter and another is not allowed to enter is not “, but insisted that” this is only about health. »»