Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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EU countries vote on border reopening ‘safe list’

EU member states are still struggling to approve a list of “safe countries” from where travellers could visit Europe in July, with the issue now being put to a vote, diplomats said on Monday.
EU envoys on Friday agreed on a list of 14 countries to be confirmed by their national governments, with the United States, Brazil and Russia, where the coronavirus is still spreading, to remain excluded.
But the list has yet to achieve final approval, as capitals hesitate on whether to unify the EU’s management of its external border.
To break the deadlock, Croatia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, on Monday initiated a written approval procedure, which will end at noon on Tuesday, according to EU sources.
In this procedure, the EU’s 27 member states must decide by qualified majority. For acceptance, 55 percent of the countries are required, representing 65 percent of the population.
The proposed “safe” list contains just 14 countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Crucially, travellers from China would be approved to enter, but under the condition that Beijing would do the same for Europeans. Non-essential travel to the EU has been banned since mid-March, but only after member states closed their national borders in confusion and without coordination as the pandemic grew.