Despite the pandemic, the EU has named 14 countries whose citizens are considered “safe” on July 1, but the United States, Brazil and China are excluded.
The appointees include Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco and South Korea.
The EU is ready to add China if the Chinese government offers a reciprocity agreement to EU travellers, diplomats said.
Many border controls have been lifted for EU citizens travelling within the block. The rules for British travellers are part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
But UK citizens should still be treated the same as EU citizens until the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, according to the European Commission.
Therefore, during this period, UK citizens and their families are exempt from the EU temporary travel restriction.
Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are on the current “safe” list, which should change further.
EU countries in the 26-member Schengen area normally allow border crossings without passports for EU citizens, but national authorities have again imposed restrictions on this crisis.
The United Kingdom is currently negotiating temporary “air bridges” with several EU member states so that the coronavirus does not completely block summer holidays, Europe’s busiest season for tourism, which employs millions of people.
How will British air bridges work?
How is the blockade lifted across Europe?
The EU procedure to formalize the list, and the criteria according to which countries are considered safe or not, will be completed by noon Tuesday.
A qualified majority of EU countries, at least 55% of EU countries, representing 65% of the EU population, have registered on the list.
There were divisions between those like Spain, who want a boost in tourism, but prefer to play it safe as they were so badly hit by Covid-19, and others like Greece and Portugal, who depend on tourism but are less affected by the virus. . .
You would think it would be fairly easy to decide which non-EU countries to consider as “safe”. But it was a tortuous and divisive process, mixing politics and economics, as well as public health.
Countries like Germany and Spain, horrified by the devastation of Covid-19, wanted to play it safe.
They lobbied for a shortlist of countries with low infection rates, good health service and reliable health data.
But Greece and Portugal had other ideas. Wanting to increase their subsequent blockade, marking savings with tourism and less affected by widespread infection at the height of the pandemic, they wanted a list as long as possible.
Then came France, insisting on reciprocity. If a non-EU country banned block flights, Paris argued that they should not be on the list.
And finally: diplomatic considerations. How embarrassing for the EU to include some countries but not others. Congratulations to visitors from Canada, Japan and China from July 1, if Beijing allows visitors from the EU to enter, but not travellers from the United States.
After days of haggling, the final list is an attempt at compromise. Lots of metaphorical sweat, blood and tears for a list which is only for information, open to exceptions and which will be adjusted and updated regularly.
Last week, reports indicated that member states were assessing two different lists. The Politico website has indicated that one covers countries with less than 16 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population and the other up to 20 cases, which would include Canada and Turkey. The list should be revised every two weeks, so the United States could be added later.
Earlier this month, the European Commission also stressed that the reopening of borders with third states in the Western Balkans has been a priority since 1 July. However, EU member Croatia said last week that travellers from Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and North Macedonia would face 14-day self-isolation due to the increase infections.