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On 30th June 2020, the European Council adopted a recommendation regarding the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU and the possible lifting of said restriction (the “Recommendation”). Since 17th March 2020, when the heads of State or Government of the EU agreed to implement the temporary restriction on all non-essential travel from third countries to the UE, the external borders of the EU were closed to third countries. On 11th June the Commission issued a communication establishing an approach for a gradual lifting of the restriction on non-essential travel to the UE as from 1st July 2020. Since then, the Member States have been debating the criteria and methodology to be applied.

1. List of third countries and criteria

In accordance with the criteria and conditions established in the Recommendation, as from 1st July, the Member States must start to lift restrictions on non-essential travel to the UE for residents of the following countries:















15)CHINA (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)

In order to determine which third countries to which the lifting of the travel restrictions may apply, the methodology and the criteria established in the Commission Communication of 11th June 2020, on the third evaluation of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the UE should be applied. The criteria correspond to the epidemiological situation and the measures of containment, including physical distancing, as well as financial and social considerations, and they are applied in an cumulative manner.

With regard to the epidemiological situation, the listed third countries must comply specifically with the following criteria:

  • The number of new cases of COVID-19 over the last 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average, as of 15th June 2020;
  • A stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days; and
  • The overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information, including aspects such as testing, surveillance measures, contact tracing, containment, treatment and the notification of the cases, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score of the International Health Regulations (IHR). Likewise, information provided by EU Delegations on these aspects should also be taken into consideration.

Furthermore, the criteria of reciprocity may be taken into account regularly and on a case by case basis.

Travel restrictions may be lifted or reintroduced totally or partially for a specific third country which already figures on the list, in accordance with the changes in some of the conditions and, as a consequence, in the evaluation of the epidemiological situation. If the situation of a third country on the list quickly worsens, decisions should be rapidly taken.

For countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the following groups shall be exempt from said restrictions:

  • EU citizens and their families;
  • Long-term EU residents and their families; and
  • Travellers with an essential function or need.

The determining factor in deciding whether the temporary restriction on a third-country national for non-essential travel to the EU shall be the residence in a third country which has also lifted non-essential travel restrictions, and not the nationality.

2. Next steps

The Recommendation is not a legally binding instrument. The authorities of the Member States continue to be responsible for implementing the content of the Recommendation. They may, with complete transparency, lift, only progressively, the restrictions on travel towards the countries listed.

No Member State may take the decision to lift restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU from other non-listed third countries before the restriction has been coordinated in accordance with the Recommendation.

The list of third countries must be revised every two weeks and may be updated by the Council, as appropriate, through close consultations with the Commission and the EU agencies and competent services following a global assessment based on the criteria above.



For more information, please contact:

Mika Tsuyuki


Barcelona, 3rd July 2020


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