Diplomats were not allowed to discuss the issue before an agreement was reached between the 27 member states of the EU, they confirmed to CNN that EU governments had been given until noon on Tuesday to allow entry into 15 countries.
The proposed list of 15 countries includes China, where the virus originated. However, the EU will only offer to enter China on the condition of mutual management. The other 14 countries are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.
As widely expected, the United States – where coronavirus is currently resurfacing – will not be on that list.
The list includes proposals from member states of the European Union to member states, which set criteria for countries to allow their citizens to enter the bloc and to meet those criteria in a systematic manner. It requires that the rate of coronavirus infection among countries that have been allowed to enter is equal to or better than that of the EU.
Border control is ultimately decided by each member state rather than at the EU level in Brussels. But EU officials hope that keeping the recommendations in place means member states will reopen their borders in a lockstop.
Europe closed its external border in March after the bloc saw a rapid rise in the rate of Kovid-19 infection.
According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States now has the highest number of infectious infections in the world and the highest number of deaths due to Covid-19.
Diplomats said it was not “highly likely” that the structure would change any time soon, meaning that a dramatic change in the U.S. infection rate would be needed if any future decisions were to be considered. The European Union is expected to review the decision every two weeks.
Member states are expected to approve the lists and guidelines by a qualified majority on Tuesday, rather than a unanimous decision.
Of the 27 members of the eligible majority, 15 are required to vote. Diplomats say the guidelines are expected to be opaque and open to interpretation in some cases, as at least three member states have expressed reluctance to open their borders, diplomats said.
EU officials immediately noted that the decision on who can or cannot enter the bloc is not a political one, but a scientific one that allows member states to protect their citizens. Yet these officials are considering the reaction of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has previously spoken highly critical of the EU and sees the decision as politically motivated.