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While the European Union (E.U.) is set to reopen its external borders beginning July 1, officials reportedly announced today that it plans to ban most travelers coming from the United States, Russia and dozens of other countries that are considered high-risk areas, not having yet sufficiently brought their COVID-19 infections under control.
Senior E.U. diplomats have finally nailed down a list of "safe" countries, whose nationals will be able to enter the bloc, having completed the long and laborious process of coming up with a common set of standards for the 27-member Union's reopening to tourism and commerce following its months of lockdown.
The New York Times reported that E.U. officials first stated on June 23 that the U.S., which has more reported COVID-19 infections and related deaths than any other country in the world, was very unlikely to be green-lit for visitors to enter the E.U.
Countries that did make it onto the "safe" list include Canada, Australia and even China, provided that China agrees to reciprocally allow visitors from the E.U. Countries were evaluated based upon a selection of scientific criteria that took into account their infection rates and how credible their public-health reporting data is considered.
The final official list of approved countries isn't due to be released until next week, and the officials who spoke to The New York Times on the subject did so only under the condition of anonymity. They revealed that the United States, among other nations, had been lobbying vehemently to get itself placed on the safe list during at least half a dozen meetings held among senior E.U. officials over the past few weeks.
Officials said that they were determined to base their decisions on scientific considerations, in no small measure to depoliticize the process and in hopes of discouraging such diplomatic pressures from outside sources. Still, some E.U. member nations reportedly argued that the shared "safe" list should be based on both scientific and economic criteria, especially those whose economies particularly benefit from American tourism.
While the list does not require unanimous support from all E.U. ambassadors and is not legally binding, member nations that choose to open themselves to visitors from excluded countries could face being shut out by their E.U. partners, which would only serve to worsen Europe's incohesive response to the pandemic that the European Commission is striving so hard to resolve.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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