Locked away in a meeting room in Brussels, officials are debating who will be allowed to enter the EU on July 1 when the bloc’s international borders are scheduled to be flung open – and who will be forbidden.
The list has already aroused controversy, after sources revealed that the United States – the worst-affected country worldwide by COVID-19 with more than 2.4 million cases, isn’t on it.
Brazil and Russia are also believed to be on the no-entry list due to their responses to the virus.
On Thursday, European officials failed to reach a decision on which countries will be barred from entry even after the bloc’s external borders open, with an EU diplomat telling Euronews that officials "could not reach an agreement" and that talks would continue into Friday.
Euronews has obtained, from EU diplomatic sources, the full draft list of the countries for which Europe’s borders will be open, and can confirm that Brazil, Qatar, the U.S. and Russia are indeed not on it.
Sources also threw into doubt the border reopening date of 1 July, suggesting agreements will not be forthcoming in time.
The full list of countries whose nationals will be allowed to enter Europe according to the draft list is as follows:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Diplomatic sources also hinted to Euronews that there is disagreement between nations on the criteria to use for this decision, with some maintaining that data about COVID rates is not reliable. They are asking the ECDC, the EU agency for disease prevention, to come up with more details, the sources said.
When EU guidelines were released two weeks ago officials said the list would take into account the infection rate in countries concerned. The criteria are based on epidemiological data and at the time we were told that 47 countries were on the list of acceptable countries and 54 nations on the barred list. From our source in Brussels on Thursday there are now 54 on the acceptable draft list, and it is clear that these numbers may continue to fluctuate.
Which list is UK on? Neither. According to the European Commission, UK nationals are still to be treated in the same way as EU citizens until the end of the Brexit transition period (31.12.2020).