According to reports, the European Union will prevent most Americans from traveling to the block even when those countries reopen to other travelers, a policy that reflects the failure of the United States to fully control the coronavirus pandemic.
The European Union restricted non-essential travel to most of its member states under current rules until at least June 30. But as of July 1, European countries are loosening some of those measures and allowing travel again from more than a dozen countries, including China (if Beijing also allows EU travelers), which meet certain criteria, including its ability to contain the coronavirus.
Right now, the United States is not up to par.
This is not entirely surprising. Europe was once the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, with Italy, Spain and France as some of the most affected countries in the bloc. Aggressive closure measures reduced cases, and many European countries have slowly reopened. And although there have been spikes across the continent, overall, cases in Europe have declined.
The United States had long surpassed Europe as the epicenter of the crisis. And, unlike its overseas allies, the United States is experiencing a massive increase in cases in some states. As of June 26, the United States has confirmed more than 2.4 million coronavirus cases and has recorded more than 124,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the United States confirmed a record 40,000 new cases of coronavirus across the country.
Matina Stevis-Gridneff of the New York Times first reported on Friday that EU officials finalized the list of acceptable countries on Friday after what she described as “tortuous negotiations”:
The list was endorsed in principle by the majority of the EU ambassadors and does not require unanimous support, but it must still be formalized in the capitals of the Member States, as well as in the bureaucracy of the Central European Union before the entry into force of the 1st of July. Diplomats did not expect the list to change.
The United States is not alone in being excluded, and travelers from other countries, including Russia, are also prohibited from visiting.
Still, this is a dramatic move by some of the United States’ closest allies, and it has serious implications for trade and travel, especially as both the United States and Europe seek to rebuild their economies after the pandemic.
The EU ban should be a wake-up call for the United States. But will be?
On March 11, when the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in the United States, President Donald Trump announced a travel ban on anyone arriving from the 26 countries of the European Union in the Schengen zone. (The ban was extended a few days later to include Ireland and the United Kingdom.)
Trump touted the decision as a way to protect Americans, though some doubted its effectiveness in actually slowing the spread of the virus, which was already circulating in communities across the United States.
The abrupt change in policy also caused confusion about who could and who couldn’t return to the U.S., leading to airport chaos and potentially counterproductive as an avalanche of people returned to U.S. airports. USA
The announcement also surprised European leaders. They condemned the unilateral decision, adding another tension to America’s transatlantic partnerships under Trump.
But, on March 17, EU states agreed to ban non-essential travel at their external borders, which included the United States. Since then it has been extended until the end of June. Tensions also existed within the European Union, as some member states temporarily closed their borders to other EU members in an attempt to contain the virus. A hallmark of the Schengen zone is free and frictionless travel, and countries turning inward presented real evidence for the EU during this crisis.
Since then, the EU has regrouped somewhat, even with a major pandemic recovery plan. And the unified travel rules would also help; Although individual EU countries can set their own rules on who can and who cannot visit, adopting a consistent policy among member states would eliminate the need for internal controls as the continent reopens for business and tourism.
Travel restrictions will be reevaluated every two weeks based on specific scientific and epidemiological criteria, according to the New York Times, which first reported on the possibility of a US ban earlier this week.
Still, the EU extending the US travel ban is a remarkable fact. The expectation in a global pandemic would be to see allies like the United States and Europe working together; Instead, the coronavirus crisis has shown how profoundly the association has deteriorated, and how Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has diminished America’s position.
Since the beginning of his administration, Trump has quarreled with European leaders in trade, NATO, the Iran deal, and other random things. That has eroded friendship, and an unprecedented global crisis has further damaged it. The United States recently declined to participate in a global vaccine summit, an apparent absence as leaders around the world pledged cooperation to find a vaccine. European leaders have also criticized Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the World Health Organization.
The United States was supposed to host the G-7 summit in late June; Trump postponed it for obvious pandemic reasons, but then tried to reschedule it in June as a sign of the reopening of the US German Chancellor Angela Merkel quickly rejected the invitation, and Trump had to postpone again until September.
Once seen as a leader, rallying other countries to respond and coordinate in response to virus outbreaks, the US fell into the international spotlight during the coronavirus and stumbled into their homes. That damaged the reputation of the United States as a superpower. It also revealed a global leadership vacuum; This is what happens when the United States looks inward. Both have damaged the global reputation of the United States.
And this will have real consequences for the United States. Business travel to Europe has failed, and it will be difficult to resume with a ban, which could have consequences as the United States and Europe seek to rebuild their economies. And while Europeans may be enjoying the American tourist-free zones, the decline in international travel has already affected countries like Italy and France quite a bit. Travel restrictions could further hinder that recovery. And the US spiral coronavirus outbreak will also harm US tourism, as Europeans, and almost anyone else, are unlikely to visit, assuming Trump lifts current travel bans and are allowed.
Trump has accepted travel bans since he took office, which he has justified as a way to defend the country and protect national security. Now, after its shameful response to the coronavirus, the United States is on the receiving end, experiencing what it is like for everyone else to try to keep Americans away.
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