The diplomats, who were not allowed to discuss the issue before the 27 EU member states reached an agreement, confirmed to CNN that they have been given to the EU governments by noon on Tuesday to agree on the list of 15 countries allowed to enter.
In the proposed list of 15 nations is China, where the virus came from. However, the EU will only allow China to enter under conditional reciprocity. The other 14 countries are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.
As expected, the US – where the coronavirus reappears – will not be on the list.
The list is made up of a set of recommendations from the EU Council to the Member States, which set out the criteria for the countries to meet before their citizens are allowed to enter the bloc and the methodology used to meet these criteria. This requires countries where entry is allowed to have rates of infection with corona equal to or better than the EU.
Border control is ultimately decided by each Member State and not at EU level in Brussels. However, EU officials hope that implementing the recommendations means that Member States will reopen their borders.
Europe closed its external borders in March after the bloc saw Covid-19 infection rates rise sharply.
The United States now has the highest number of confirmed infections and the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in any country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus University Resource Center.
Diplomats said it was “highly unlikely” that the framework would change any time soon, which would mean a dramatic recovery in the rate of US infection if any future decision is to be taken into account. The EU is expected to reconsider its decision every two weeks.
Member States are expected to approve the list and guidelines by a special majority on Tuesday, rather than by unanimous decision.
The special majority requires 15 of the 27 member states to vote in favor. Guidelines are expected to be opaque and open to interpretation in some areas, as at least three Member States have expressed their reluctance to open borders, diplomats said.
EU officials have quickly shown that decisions about who can and cannot enter the bloc are not political, but are based on science that allows Member States to keep their citizens safe. However, these officials support the reaction of US President Donald Trump, who in the past has said very critical things about the EU and may consider the decision politically motivated.