The European Council on Monday removed a total of six countries, including the United States and Israel, from the list of safe third countries for non-essential travel into the EU.
The removal from the list means that the Council recommends for EU member states to reintroduce temporary entry bans or travel restrictions for visitors from the United States and Israel due to the surge in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections and hospitalizations that have been recorded.
Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia were also dropped from the EU’s list.
In its recommendation the Council said that member states can choose to not impose temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travellers.
In response to the EU’s recommendation for imposing travel restrictions, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Willie Walsh, made the following statement: “While this is a disappointing development for businesses and people who rely on travel, the data from the US and Israel supports the value and benefit of vaccination. As governments rightly urge their populations to be vaccinated, governments need to be confident in the benefits they bring—including the freedom to travel. At a minimum, those who are fully vaccinated should be free to move without restriction.”
The Council’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries for which EU member states should lift travel restrictions is reviewed every two weeks and, as the case may be, updated.
It is reminded that the Council’s recommendation is not a legally binding instrument.
Updated list of safe third countries
According to the Council, following a review of its recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, member states as from August 30 should gradually open their external borders for residents of the following third countries, special administrative regions and territories: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity).
Moreover, the Council advised for travel restrictions to be gradually lifted for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
According to the Council, the criteria to determine the third countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted cover the epidemiological situation and overall response to COVID-19, as well as the reliability of the available information and data sources.
Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of the Council’s recommendation.
Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in the recommendation.