It is characteristic of a list to select and therefore to exclude. The one who is preparing in Brussels is no exception to the rule, to establish which nationals will or will not be entitled to stay in the EU, from 1is next July. Even if it means offending the egos of the most powerful, in Washington, Moscow or Brasilia.
→ READ. France will gradually reopen its Schengen external borders from 1is July
Since March 17, the 30 European countries of the Schengen area had closed their area to external visits, with the exception of cases of repatriation and “Essential journey”. It must now disclose around fifty provenances authorized for the stay, based mainly on health criteria.
The “incidence rate” for compass
The envisaged hierarchy is already creaking teeth. A first provisional list, unveiled Tuesday June 23 by New York Times, excludes the United States, Russia and Brazil, when it integrates other countries, such as China, Cuba, Uganda, or Vietnam. To draw up this list, the European Commission uses the main indicator as the number of new infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants within 14 days (“incidence rate”). As the health situation is fluctuating, the circle of authorized countries will be redelimited every two weeks.
Friday June 19, on France 2, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, assured that the selection would concern “The countries which have mastered the epidemic, and which do not endanger the health security of the French and Europeans”. The EU would de facto open its borders to all countries with a contamination rate equal to or lower than its own (16 new infections per 100,000 people), as well as to a handful of others with slightly higher rates.
Based on give and take
This is not the case in the United States, which has passed the 120,000 mark for 2.3 million cases, and which continues to have a contamination rate of 107 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It is less than Brazil (190 cases) but more than Russia (80 cases). The exclusion of the United States may nevertheless be seen as a snub by the Trump administration, campaigning for re-election, while the list points to the American inability to control the scourge.
The European Union, in addition to health criteria, recalls its attachment to the principle of “Reciprocity” : no question of reopening its borders to a country which itself would not have lifted its restrictions. The question obviously arises for the United States, while the White House last March banned Europeans entering the United States, precisely in the name of the coronavirus pandemic.
→ LONG FORMAT. Thirty-five years later, the city of Schengen still defends the opening of borders
In Asia, for the moment, many countries still prohibit or dissuade the mobility of Europeans, like Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand or Singapore. The EU should therefore align, unless these countries change their rules.
This concerted and synchronized opening of borders will, in any event, be a new test of solidarity for Europeans, while the list put forward by the European Commission will not be legally binding. Some states could decide to break the common position, at the risk of resurfacing in the EU internal borders which were just beginning to disappear, since 15 June.