The European Union (EU) will reopen its external borders to 15 third countries as of this Wednesday, July 1, after several months of restrictions linked to the coronavirus crisis.
Last Friday, the ambassadors of the 27 EU states had agreed to recommend the reopening of the external borders to 14 countries (Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay) to which s adds China under certain conditions. It is likely that micro-states, such as Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, are added to the list.
The Croatian EU Presidency on Saturday asked European states to take a position on this list. But three countries, Italy, Poland, in the middle of the presidential election, and Spain had asked more time to speak.
Two states lift their reluctance
With the July 1 deadline approaching, the Croatian Presidency launched Monday afternoon a “written procedure” asking each state to decide on the list. To make this decision, there is no need for unanimity between the 27, the qualified majority is enough (15 states out of 27, representing at least 65% of the European population).
According to our information, Spain and Poland lifted their reluctance on Monday. Italy’s position was still unknown.
The EU therefore recommends this Tuesday to reopen the external borders to 15 states, including China under certain conditions. This recommendation does not, however, prejudge the final decision of each State, the opening of a border being a national competence. It would be astonishing if the States did not follow this recommendation, since the opening of the borders of only one of them allowed access to the entire Schengen area.
The list will be updated every two weeks.
The United States excluded
The United States, Brazil and Russia were not included in the list. These countries, like others around the world, are considered to be too exposed to the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, with over 127,000 deaths for 2.6 million cases of infection on a population of 328 million inhabitants.
To develop the list, European ambassadors have used multiple criterias. One of them excludes countries whose the infection rate is higher than the European average (16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks).
Negotiations on the countries on the list were tough. Last week, around fifty countries were selected.
The European Commission would have liked, at first, establish eligibility criteria and, secondly, determine which third States meet these criteria.
But the ambassadors preferred another methodology. Agree on the number of third States, fifteen, for which the borders would be lifted, before choosing which ones on the basis of criteria.