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June 30, 2020

The EU will allow entry of visitors from 14 “safe” countries

The EU will allow entry of visitors from 14 “safe” countries

The EU has released a list of 14 countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter the bloc from July 1. 

The current “safe” list, due to be finalized by midday on Tuesday, includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. 

Notable exceptions are the US, Brazil, and China, with China likely to be added if the Chinese government offers a reciprocal deal to EU travelers.

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, people were crossing borders more than ever before, according to Jacques Poot in his IZA World of Labor article, as “part of the global increase of flows of all kinds: goods, services, finance, information, and people.”

The EU Commission first announced the closure of the external borders of the Schengen area on March 17. The travel ban prevented all non-EU nationals from visiting the bloc, except long-term residents, family members of EU nationals and diplomats, cross-border and healthcare workers, and people transporting goods.

Border controls have also been lifted for EU citizens traveling inside the bloc, with UK citizens treated in the same way as EU citizens—i.e. exempt from the temporary travel restriction—at least until the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.

The “safe” list has been signed off by a qualified majority (55%) of the 27 EU countries, but they have expressed varying levels of support for opening up. Countries like Spain and Germany, concerned about the devastating results of the coronavirus pandemic, wished to play it safe with a short list of countries with low infection rates, a good health service, and reliable health data.

Other countries, such as Greece and Portugal, anxious about the continued effects of the pandemic on their economies, have pushed for longer lists to aid their flagging tourism industries. France, on the other hand, has insisted on reciprocity, willing to open up to those countries willing to do the same in return. 

Jacques Poot’s pre-coronavirus article notes that “international mobility, including temporary and permanent migration and short-term travel, has major economic benefits through the additional trade in services, the greater efficiency in the allocation of labor, the strengthening of networks with diasporas, and the transmission of information generally.”

As Tito Boeri and his co-authors note in their recent commentary: “[I]t is essential that we think about an ‘exit strategy’ from lockdowns, one that eases the transition back to ‘normal’ economic activity while at the same time minimizing the risk of additional deaths and hospitalizations.”

Read more from IZA World of Labor on the Covid-19 pandemic.