EU im­passe poses threat to tourism

Greek plan to open up to the world on July 1 threat­ened by dis­agree­ments among Euro­peans

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece’s plan to open up to the world on July 1 to sal­vage its tourist sea­son could be jeop­ar­dized as there is a grow­ing risk that Euro­pean Union mem­ber-states will fail to agree on the de­tails re­gard­ing the open­ing of their bor­ders to trav­el­ers from third coun­tries on that date.

De­spite in­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tions at the level of per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tives, with long meet­ings on Mon­day and again yes­ter­day, dis­agree­ments re­main over the epi­demi­o­log­i­cal cri­te­ria and their re­li­a­bil­ity. What’s more, the dif­fi­cul­ties are fur­ther aug­mented by the spe­cial re­la­tions that some mem­ber-states have with spe­cific third coun­tries.

Talks be­tween coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives will con­tinue to­mor­row, and if no sig­nif­i­cant progress is made there is a like­li­hood that a plan B will come into play.

Sev­eral mem­ber-states are re­port­edly lean­ing to­ward a new ex­ten­sion of the travel ban on ar­rivals from third coun­tries, with a date pro­posed for July 15.

Kathimerin­i un­der­stands that the Greek side has re­jected this. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Athens is dis­mayed that de­spite its ef­forts since May for mem­ber-states to reach an agree­ment on when to open the bor­ders, there has es­sen­tially been no progress.

The gen­eral di­rec­tion of talks is for EU mem­bers to open the bor­ders to coun­tries that have epi­demi­o­log­i­cal data cor­re­spond­ing to the EU av­er­age –16 new cases per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion in the pre­vi­ous two weeks – or slightly higher (up to 20 per 100,000) if there is a down­ward trend.

Re­gard­ing coun­tries where there are doubts over the ac­cu­racy of data, it has been sug­gested that lo­cal em­bassies (ei­ther of the EU or spe­cific mem­ber-states) be re­cruited to give a more ac­cu­rate pic­ture of the si­t­u­a­tion. It has also been pro­posed that the list of coun­tries that the EU states open their bor­ders to be up­dated ev­ery two weeks – which is seen as a recipe for end­less diplomatic marathons at the height of sum­mer.

A com­pro­mise pro­posal – which Athens is con­sid­er­ing, al­beit with reser­va­tions, is that the ini­tial list of coun­tries should be very small. An­other idea be­ing mulled is the pos­si­bil­ity of in­di­vid­ual mem­ber-states re­serv­ing the right not to open their bor­ders to cer­tain third coun­tries that will be on the list – al­though this may face sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions in im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The US, Rus­sia and the UK ac­count for 20% of Greek tourism.

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