On Tuesday the European Commission released its much-anticipated list of countries whose residents will be permitted to travel into the European Union starting tomorrow.
Who’s in? Residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. If China reopens its borders to EU residents, it will also be included.
Who’s out? Everyone else, including the United States. The announcement was a heavy blow for Americans — and not just those with summer travel plans to Europe.
When EU draft lists failed to include the U.S. among countries likely to be welcomed next month, media reaction was swift. It was “embarrassing,” a “blow to U.S. prestige,” and a “stinging rebuke to the Trump administration’s management of the coronavirus scourge.”
It was also entirely expected. On June 11, the European Commission published a four-part checklist that set forth “objective criteria” to create a “common list” of countries to lift travel restrictions into the EU and Schengen Area countries.
The checklist’s main question: Is a country in a comparable or better “epidemiological situation” as the average EU nation in terms of new cases, infection trends and the ability to test, trace, contain, treat and report on the pandemic?
Additional factors include the ability to apply containment measures during travel and whether a country has lifted travel restrictions toward the EU. Beyond canceled travel plans, the EU’s list is a hard pill to swallow as it is, in essence, the world’s first government-backed, scientifically-applied, allies-be-damned analysis on which countries are successfully containing Covid-19 infections.
Is the EU’s approach flawless? Probably not. Making international comparisons is notoriously difficult; death counts are not standardized and testing rates vary as does government transparency. But it represents a good faith effort to apply a neutral, apolitical approach to reopening global borders. The U.S. reportedly lobbied intensely to get onto the safe list.
A little face can be saved for America in that the United States isn’t so much being “banned” from entering Europe as it simply isn’t being invited to the party (yet). Nobody likes to be left off the guest list though, especially not a soiree this big, and when peers like Canada and Australia and rivals like China made the cut.