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After much speculation and some delay, the European Commission released Tuesday a finalized list of the non-European Union nations whose travelers should be allowed to enter EU countries. The U.S. was not included on the list.
The list of nations that will be allowed to visit the EU without travel restrictions from July 1 are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. In turn, those countries considered for the safe list are also expected to lift any bans they might have in place on European travelers.
China was also included on the list. However, it is not expected that the Chinese government will reciprocate on allowing EU citizens to visit China. The list of countries will be reviewed every two weeks.
While the decision has in theory been driven by the countries which have low infection rates as well as reliable data, political considerations have also undoubtedly been weighed. The exclusion of the United States will likely have diplomatic and geopolitical consequences. Large nations with high infection rates including Brazil, India, and Russia were also left off the list.
The EU revealed its criteria was based on, among other things, states where the “number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100 000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average (as it stood on 15 June 2020).”
The Times of London reports that some member states were concerned about the optics of allowing Chinese travelers in (subject to reciprocity) and not those from the U.S. — something almost certain to rankle President Trump. “This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries, this is an exercise of self-responsibility,” Arancha González Laya, the Spanish foreign minister, told Cadena SER radio.
As before, visitors from states not on the list can enter the EU under certain conditions, including EU citizens and their family members who live outside the bloc.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the European Union has struggled to maintain cohesion among member states when it comes to travel restrictions. The list published today is not legally binding, though most states are expected to follow it. Greece had reportedly objected to the idea of disallowing Americans to visit, but later acquiesced.