China Makes EU ‘Safe Countries’ List, US, Russia, Turkey Left Out
Most non-essential travel inside the EU and Schengen Area will be allowed as of July 1, 2020.
A total of 15 nations from around the world have made the European Union’s first list of “safe countries” amid the coronavirus pandemic, and their citizens will be allowed to travel to the EU and Schengen Area member states.
The list includes countries whose coronavirus situation is judged not to be worse than the average for the European Union and Schengen Area countries. Their citizens will be entitled to non-essential travel to the EU and Schengen member states as of Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
While a total of 14 countries have made the list, China was added provisionally, and Chinese citizens will be allowed to travel to the EU if China itself whitelists the EU member states for travel.
The 14 countries which figure unconditionally on the EU’s “safe countries” list are Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Rwanda in Africa; Georgia, Montenegro, and Serbia in Europe; Canada and Uruguay in the Americas; and Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand in the Asia – Pacific region.
Major countries such as United States, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and India did not make the list as their coronavirus epidemics were judged to be worse than the EU’s situation.
The UK, which formally left the Union on Brexit Day, January 31, 2020, will be treated as part of the EU until the end of the year, according to the Council. The UK currently has a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days for those traveling to the country but other EU countries have already withdrawn similar mandatory periods.
The EU is going to update every two weeks its list of safe countries whose citizens are allowed to visit the 27 EU member states plus four other European countries which are part of the visa-free Schengen Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
The list required a “qualified majority” of EU countries to be passed, which means 15 EU countries (out of a total of 27), representing 65% of the Union’s population.
The EU “safe countries” list is technically not obligatory, and presents a recommendation to the member states, which could set further restrictions.
“The authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation. They may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed,” the Council of the EU said.
The opening of the EU to travelers from at least some international destinations is a measure designed to help prop up the EU travel and tourism industry, especially with respect to the southern EU member states, which have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
As reciprocity is a condition on being on the EU safe country list, Chinese citizens will be allowed to visit the Union only after China starts allowed in EU visitors.
The 27 EU nations and the four other countries that are part of Europe’s “Schengen area” are expected to reopen their borders between each other as of July 1.
Many restrictions still remain, however, as the Czech Republic still does not allow tourists from Sweden and Portugal, while Greece performs mandatory tests for COVID-19 for arrivals from several other EU member states such as France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.
(Banner image: Marco Verch, Flickr)