European Union lifts travel ban for 15 countries

EU delays decision on external border reopening

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Croatia, which now holds the EU's rotating presidency, requested that countries offer feedback by Saturday at 1600 GMT, with hopes the matter could then be put to a vote among the 27 member states.

According to Euronews, EU officials failed to agree on a common list of the countries that would definitely be banned from entering the block upon the border reopening but managed to create a list of the countries with a better epidemiological situation, the citizens of which will be able to enter Europe by the end of next week.

On June 11, the Commission presented its recommendation on the reopening of internal Schengen borders on June 15, so that Europeans can travel within the borderless area freely, just as they did pre-pandemic. "Travel restrictions should be lifted for countries listed in the recommendation, with this list being reviewed and, as the case may be, updated every two weeks".

More than 15 million United States citizens travel to Europe each year, while about 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic.

Border management will remain a matter of national decision, meaning that member countries may decide not to open their borders to all the 15 countries, however they will undertake not to accept visitors from other nations.

The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The move is aimed at supporting the European Union travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries like Germany and Spain, horrified by the devastation of COVID-19, wanted to play it safe.

The US, Brazil and Russian Federation - countries where the coronavirus is still spreading - will most likely remain excluded for the time being.

The bar was fixed at 16 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.

However, the health-based criteria has collided with geopolitics, with some countries reluctant to collectively ban the U.S. while welcoming visitors from China, where the pandemic began.

For countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the following categories are exempted: European Union citizens and their family members; long-term European Union residents and their family members; travelers with an essential function or need. "If the situation in a listed third country worsens quickly, rapid decision-making should be applied".

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