“Dear America, Fuck off.”
That’s the likely message the 27 members of the European Union will send when they sign off on a blacklist of countries that won’t be welcome when its external borders open July 1. As reported by The Daily Beast in May, the EU is concerned that the positive impact of its own tough lockdowns could be undermined by the chaotic policies and negative impact of the American response to the pandemic, where at least 23 states have reported sharp spikes in COVID-19 cases and 125,000 people have died.
Among the countries reportedly joining the U.S. on the non grata list are Russia and Brazil, whose handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been at least as dismal as the U.S. response, according to an EU source who had been briefed on the meeting.
Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are on the draft “safe list.” So is China, where the pandemic began, but on the condition that it offers reciprocal access to EU citizens and residents.
The safe list is expected to be signed after EU ambassadors return home to discuss matters with leaders in their individual countries after tense talks in Brussels. It will undoubtedly create a diplomatic disaster if some of the 27 member states, who do not have a history of easy consensus building, refuse to sign off.
U.S. access to Europe will only improve if the American epidemiological situation improves and if the U.S. reverses its own travel ban on Europeans entering imposed in March. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier in the week that the situation is complicated. “It’s a challenge for all of us to decide how and when to open up our economies and our society,” he said.
The Trump administration has blamed aggressive testing on the surge in new cases, but the EU and U.S., which are roughly the same size, conduct nearly the same number of tests each day. The EU has been able to drop the curve to only around 16 new cases per 100,000 people compared to around 122 per 100,000 in the U.S. through mask wearing, social distancing and draconian lockdowns that have clearly paid off in the long term.
The EU entry plan will be reviewed every two weeks to determine whether any blocked countries have improved.