Green light for Canada and three Maghreb countries, red light for the United States and Turkey: Brussels on Tuesday validated a shortlist of around 15 countries whose nationals will be allowed to travel to the European Union (EU) from Wednesday.
Member State governments had until noon on Tuesday to vote on this list of countries whose epidemiological situation linked to the COVID-19 disease is deemed safe enough to resume such travel as the summer tourist season begins.
Drawn up by the ambassadors of the European Union countries on Friday evening, which was the subject of difficult negotiations, the list of visitors admitted to the EU and the Schengen area includes Canada, Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
It also includes China, but only on condition that it admits visitors from the EU, which is currently only to a limited extent.
The list, which is to be updated every two weeks, excludes the United States, the country most affected by the pandemic worldwide, with almost 126,000 deaths out of a total of almost 2.6 million cases. Brazil, Russia, India, Turkey, Israel and other countries are also excluded from the list, which is intended to be updated every two weeks.
Although the UK left the EU on 31 January, it was not affected by the travel restrictions.
Non-essential’ travel to Europe has been banned since mid-March in order to combat the spread of the pandemic.
Tuesday’s vote was on a recommendation which is not legally binding, as EU countries have sovereignty over the control of their borders. But they agreed to coordinate because of the freedom of movement within the Schengen area, where the restrictions decided to fight the pandemic have been gradually lifted.
Caught between health imperatives and the concern to revive an economy hit by the crisis by promoting tourism, the EU has agreed to re-authorise third-country travellers from 1 July, but in a “partial and gradual” manner.