European Union member states have drawn up a list of 15 countries whose citizens may be allowed to travel again to the bloc starting July 1 that excludes the U.S. but includes Canada, Japan and possibly China, diplomats said.
A final decision is yet to be taken on the list, but diplomats said they were reasonably confident it would be approved unchanged. Member states have been asked to approve it by Saturday evening.
The EU has had a broad travel ban in place since mid-March when the bloc closed its external borders to all nonessential travel to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, which has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the region and led to the shutdown of many economies.
Two weeks ago, with the health situation much improved, most member states agreed to open their borders to each other by June 15, and the European Commission proposed allowing travelers from outside the region to start coming to the bloc starting July 1.
The move was intended in part to boost hard-hit economies by allowing people to come to Europe for the summer tourist season.
After days of wrangling over the criteria for deciding which countries to open up to, senior officials from the member states came close to a consensus on Friday to a list of 14 countries that should be allowed because their health situation is at least as good as the EU’s.
Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Georgia, Uruguay, Morroco, Tunisia, Algeria, Serbia, Montenegro, Rwanda and Thailand are on the list. China will also be included if Beijing decides to allow EU citizens to travel there before July 1.
The decision to exclude U.S. citizens could prove a further strain on already troubled trans-Atlantic ties. However the U.S. is still banning most European citizens from coming to the country, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said U.S. and European officials were in discussions to address the situation.
“It’s a challenge for all of us to decide how and when to open up our economies and our society,” he said.
Under the plan, member states would review the list every two weeks to see who should stay on and who could be added.
Brussels has no direct control over border issues, so ultimately it will be up to each member state to stick to a common list. Some countries, such as Cyprus, have already allowed some non-EU citizens to travel there.
U.K. citizens are allowed to come to the bloc. The travel ban applied in all EU countries apart from Ireland, which has a common travel area with Britain. Four non-EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, coordinated their border closures with the EU.
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