The 27 EU members failed to decide on the ‘definitive’ short list of countries they prepared to open their borders to from July 1.
Today’s objective was to establish the definitive ‘short list’ of countries that can re-establish the transit of passengers to and from Europe from next Wednesday, but member countries are struggling with the finer details. This includes establishing a ‘clear epidemiological’ criteria to help Foreign Ministers narrow the list of countries on the list. Although they are in agreement that countries such as the United States, Brazil and Russia should not be on the list yet because of their very high levels of infection rates compared to Europe, they are struggling to finalise the short list of countries that can.
The list needs to based on ‘health and scientific data’ and not ‘political’ ones to ensure Europe’s borders can open to countries where the pandemic is at similar levels to the EU, according to member countries. They also plan to review this short-list of countries regularly to see if other countries can be added to the list when health data improves. The review period is actually one of the ‘sticking’ points in the negotiation, although the most favourable option for re-evaluating the situation is ‘every two weeks.’
Countries on the list, identified as ‘safe’ will ideally be based on several criteria, such as the average number of new infections per 100,000 people over the past two weeks (or other time frame still to be decided). The EU’s rate for example is 16, compared to Brazil’s 190, the US’s 107 and Russia’s 80. But the ‘average number of infections’ is another sticking point. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has suggested that “a threshold of 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants could be an option,” but Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya hinted today that there’s actually “no consensus” on this at present. “Some think that 50 is too high and that it should be closer to 20, while others think that it is too modest, so we are going to leave a little time for discussion,” explained Laya. As the 27 EU members failed to come up with a short list today with the relevant criteria, discussions are expected to continue tomorrow.