EU envoys are discussing a ban on coronavirus travel as the deadline approaches

European Commission officials are working with member states on a consultation they can consider safe to visit from 1 July, when the EU plans to reopen its borders.

However, the 27 Member States have not yet agreed on the criteria to be used to draw up the guidelines to be applied to the 104 countries with which the EU has a visa arrangement, including the United States.

EU diplomats who spoke to CNN argued that the criteria would be based on health rather than political considerations.

New York Times he reported on Tuesday that Americans may not be able to travel to the European bloc when they reopen their borders. The document said it had seen draft lists of countries considered acceptable or not, based on their coronavirus situation.

However, several sources told CNN that they had not seen draft lists of specific countries.

“We have not set final objective criteria, so the first list of countries has not been written. It does not exist. We certainly have data, but there is no list,” an EU official told CNN on Thursday.

“Objective criteria must be applied equally to one hundred or more third countries, so it is never about one country.”

The United States has the highest number of deaths and coronavirus infections in the world. At least 2,422,299 people have been infected in the country since the end of Thursday, and 124,410 people have died, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center showed.

Coordinated approach

Talks resumed in European capitals ahead of a meeting of ambassadors Friday as EU member states grapple with burning issues, such as how to address restrictions for non-EU countries that have a bilateral travel arrangement with an EU member state, such as Brazil and Portugal. .

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Questions were also raised on how to assess the testing and monitoring regimes of specific countries and the reliability of their data.

The recommendations of the European Commission are not mandatory – decisions on whether and how to open borders are a matter for individual countries.

But European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said it was crucial for EU members to take a unified approach.

“For the effectiveness of this travel restriction, as well as for the integrity of the Schengen area, it is really important that the member states act together on this issue,” he said.

“We have seen a very strong political commitment from Member States to continue to act in a coordinated manner on this issue.”

Asked earlier this week whether the U.S. is on a list of countries of origin that could ban travel to Europe, an EU diplomat referred CNN to the first item on the June 11 list released by the European Commission on what to consider when allowing travelers to EU.

The first item on the list raises the question of whether a country can be considered in a comparable or better epidemiological situation than the EU + average in terms of number of new infections, trend of new infections and reactions in areas such as testing, surveillance, contact, retention, treatment and reporting.

Another EU diplomat claimed there were no criteria to be discussed.

“It’s just for health. It certainly can’t be seen on the list as something political, when one country is allowed and another is not, but this is a misrepresentation of what we do. We want to open our borders, this is a positive step “, said the diplomat.

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“There are 27 countries sitting at the table who have a lot of different opinions, they are focused on objective criteria, because the criteria should be applied uniformly.

“If you take the U.S., as far as I know, there’s been a lot of interest since the New York Times article, if you look at the exact June 11 criteria, then we can’t open our border to the U.S., but we can’t open our border with other countries.”

The diplomat hoped that progress could be made in the latest talks, as the July 1st deadline points out.

“The ambassadors will meet this Friday and see how far they can go. We hope to get a little closer.”

U.S. tariffs are not a factor

Reciprocity is another consideration under the June 11 guidelines.

Earlier this year, the U.S. severely restricted travel from large parts of Europe due to coronavirus concerns.
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Answering a press question Thursday, Eric Mamer, the European Commission’s chief spokesman, said US moves to impose new tariffs on EU goods would not result in consideration.

“Our internal process is clearly linked to considerations based on health criteria. Everything else – in terms of decisions the U.S. can make or not – we speculate we won’t go in. And in any case, it won’t be affected. Our internal process.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. is working with European countries on how best to reopen travel.

“It is important that the United States gets Europeans with the capacity to return to the United States. It is important, very important, that Europeans also fully connect with the American economy. I think the leaders of all two places understand the importance of this,” he said during a State Department briefing.

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Among the options being discussed are travel restrictions based on U.S. geographic regions, rather than a large nationwide ban because some regions have a higher infection rate than others, two EU officials told CNN.

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