EU can open external borders, but US visitors could be banned

Brussels Airport, Belgium.


The European Union is discussing how to reopen its external borders as the region seeks to slowly revive its economy, and visitors from countries like the United States may still be banned from entering the bloc.

Thirty European countries decided to close their external borders in March to contain the spread of Covid-19. The travel restriction has been extended three times, but must now end on Tuesday.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, suggested earlier this month that European nations should open their internal borders by June 15 and slowly lift the travel ban on foreign visitors from July 1. The Commission also said that the reopening of external borders should be a coordinated exercise between European governments and regularly reviewed.

“It is too early to say which countries will be on the list,” an EU official told CNBC on Wednesday, referring to which non-EU countries that can be granted access.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, added that representatives of EU governments on Wednesday They are discussing the criteria for lifting travel restrictions from abroad. At the moment, the main requirement would be the rate of coronavirus infection in the country of origin, the official said.

This means that countries with high rates, such as the United States and Brazil, could remain excluded from entering European nations, at least for a time.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 9 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide. The United States, Brazil, and Russia have the majority of cases. As of Monday, the seven-day average of daily new cases in the US USA It increased more than 30% compared to a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of the Hopkins data.

A second EU official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity due to the delicacy of the negotiations, told CNBC that there is as yet no confirmed final list of foreign nations that will be removed from the ban.

The Commission recommended earlier this month to lift restrictions for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia “given that their epidemiological situation is similar to or better than that of the EU.”

The first EU official said the list of countries that will see travel restrictions lifted is likely to be “fairly limited” with no more than 10 to 15 countries to start.