NIGERIANS and their African counterparts from Ghana, South Africa, Cameroon and others may not benefit from the reopening of the European Union external borders, which is expected to happen by the beginning of July, a report by schengenvisainfo news has shown.
The exclusion of these African countries is premised on their epidemiological situation and coronavirus response, their ability to apply containment measures during travel, and whether or not they have lifted travel restrictions towards the EU.
Nigeria currently has 24,567 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has recorded 565 deaths, while Ghana has 17,351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 112 deaths. South Africa has so far recorded 138,000 confirmed and 2,456 deaths, while Cameroon has recorded 12,592 confirmed cases and 313 deaths.
Schengenvisainfo news published a draft list of citizens of 54 world countries that will benefit from the reopening of the European Union external borders, to commence July 1.
Quoting Euronews sources, it said EU officials failed to agree on a common list of the countries that would definitely be banned from entering the block upon the border reopening but managed to create a list of the countries with a better epidemiological situation, the citizens of which will be able to enter Europe by the end of the month.
The website said the same sources have also confirmed that citizens of Brazil, Qatar, the US and Russia will only be able to enter Europe at a later date when the epidemiological situation in these countries improves.
In the list of the 54 countries, only 10 African countries- including Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia were among those whose citizens would be allowed in the European Union countries.
“The European Union has an internal process to determine from which countries it would be safe to accept travellers,” EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said last Thursday, adding that its decisions are “based on health criteria.”
On June 11, the Commission presented its recommendation on the reopening of internal Schengen borders on June 15, so that Europeans can travel within the borderless area freely, just as they did pre-pandemic.
At the same time, the Commission recommended that the Member States should start allowing third-country nationals to enter the EU starting from July 1, gradually and partially, based on the epidemiological situation in each third-country.
The Commission recommended the following objective criteria for the Member States, when drafting the list of countries, the citizens of which may visit the EU after July 1: epidemiological situation and coronavirus response in that country, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, an
whether or not that country has lifted travel restrictions towards the EU.
Based on these conditions, the Commission recommended that the nationals of the six Western Balkan countries should be the first to benefit from the abolishment of travel restrictions, all of which are in the above list.
In a related development, Reuters reported that Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is to make his first international trip since the coronavirus crisis to West Africa on Tuesday for a summit on Sahel region issues with other heads of state including France’s President Emmanuel Macron.
The European leaders will be joined in Mauritania by heads of the so-called G5 Sahel states – also including Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger – and U.N. boss Antonio Guterres, Sanchez’s office said in a statement.
In another sign of travel slowly resuming after months of coronavirus lockdowns, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said the European Union would have a list of COVID-19-safe countries outside the bloc ready by Tuesday at the latest.
Officials are preparing a list of 15 non-EU countries considered safe for travel based on epidemiological criteria, she told local radio Cadena SER.
Sanchez’s office said he would deliver some COVID-19 aid to Mauritania when he arrives for the meeting. Migration issues were also on the agenda, the statement said.