European Union member states today decided to reopen the external borders as of Wednesday to 15 countries whose epidemiological situation of covid-19 they consider satisfactory, excluding countries such as the United States and Brazil from this list. .

The list of third countries to which it will be allowed to resume “non-essential” travel to Europe, which has been discussed over the past few days by the ambassadors of the 27 in Brussels and today formally adopted by written procedure by the Member States, includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China, but in the latter case subject to confirmation of reciprocity, that is, when the Asian country reopens its borders to the EU.

As expected, given the current epidemiological situation, countries such as the United States, Russia and India and Brazil have not yet received a ‘green light’, with all Portuguese-speaking African countries remaining on the list ( PALOP) and Timor-Leste.

For third countries that continue to be restricted, EU citizens and family members, long-term residents in the Union and their families and travellers with special functions or needs will be exempt from them.

In a statement, the Council points out that the list, drawn up on the basis of a series of criteria – and adopted today by a qualified majority – will be reviewed every two weeks and may be updated, with travel restrictions possibly being lifted in whole or in part or reintroduced to a specific third country included in the list if there are changes in its epidemiological situation.

“If the situation in a country worsens rapidly, rapid decision-making will be applied,” says the EU Council.

In order to draw up this list of countries to allow connections to be resumed to Europe, criteria were determined, such as the number of cases of contagion in the last 14 days, and per 100,000 inhabitants, being identical or below the EU average, there is a stabilization or reduction in the trend of new cases in this period compared to the previous 14 days, and the global response to the pandemic, taking into account aspects such as the tests carried out, containment measures, surveillance and treatments.

The Council points out that the principle of reciprocity must also be taken into account, “on a regular basis and on a case-by-case basis”. In this first list, the reopening of the borders to China is thus dependent on the reopening of China’s borders to EU citizens.