BRUSSELS: The Council of the European Union (EU) on Tuesday adopted a recommendation to lift entry restrictions for residents of some third countries starting Wednesday, and the United States is noticeably shut out.
The council recommended the lifting of travel restrictions for residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican are to be considered as EU residents for the purpose of the recommendation.
The United States, a traditional ally of the EU and a significant source of tourism, is not on the list.
The external borders of the bloc have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The council said the criteria to determine the group of countries for which current travel restrictions should be lifted cover, in particular, their epidemiological situations and containment measures. The list of "safe" third countries will be reviewed every two weeks.
The council also recommended that residents of China be allowed to travel to the EU, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.
While highly anticipated, the council's recommendations are not legally binding, since border control is still its member states' competency, the council said.
The member states "may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed. A Member State should not decide to lift the travel restrictions for non-listed third countries before this has been decided in a coordinated manner," the council said.