The diplomats, who were not allowed to discuss the matter before the 27 EU member states reached an agreement, confirmed to CNN that EU governments were granted until lunchtime on Tuesday to agree on the list of the 15 allowed entry.
On the proposed list of 15 countries is China, where the virus originated. However, the European Union will only offer to enter China on condition of mutual arrangements. The other fourteen are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.
As was widely expected, the United States – where the coronavirus is currently back – will not be on this list.
The list is included in a set of recommendations issued by the Council of the European Union to member states, which specify the criteria that countries must meet before allowing their citizens to enter the bloc and the methodology for meeting those standards. This requires that the countries admitted to have coronavirus infection rates equal or better than the European Union.
Border control is ultimately determined by each member state and not at the European Union level in Brussels. But EU officials hope that having the recommendations means that member states will reopen their borders in a closed path.
Europe closed its external borders in March after the bloc saw Covid-19 infection rates rise dramatically.
The United States now has the highest number of confirmed infections and the highest number of Covid-19 deaths from any country in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University Corona Virus Resource Center.
The diplomats said it was “highly unlikely” that the framework would change any time soon, which would mean a fundamental shift in the rate of infection in the United States if any future decision was to be considered. The European Union is expected to review the decision every two weeks.
Member States are expected to approve the list and guidelines by a qualified majority on Tuesday, not by unanimous decision.
A qualified majority requires 15 of 27 countries to vote in their favor. The diplomats said that the guidelines are expected to be transparent and open to interpretation in some areas, as at least three member states have expressed reluctance to open the borders at all.
European Union officials were quick to point out that the decisions about who can enter the bloc and who cannot enter the bloc are not political decisions, but are based on the science that allows member states to keep their citizens safe. However, these officials are preparing for the reaction of US President Donald Trump, who has previously said very decisive things about the European Union and may see the decision as politically motivated.