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With the worst of the pandemic behind it, Brussels is hoping the Continent reopens in a more organized fashion than the way it closed down.
In March and April, as the coronavirus spread across Europe, the 35-year old Schengen Agreement that governs borderless travel between most EU countries was effectively abandoned. Countries boarded up without notice, citizens were left stranded, and European cooperation ground to an abrupt halt.
That began to be reversed on June 15, with countries starting to bring down barriers to travelers mainly from other countries in the bloc. On Tuesday, EU countries finalized the criteria that will determine whether a non-EU country is safe enough for its citizens to visit Europe (and vice versa, it hopes).
Capitals finalized an initial list of 15 countries, plus four European microstates. But the process is complicated by political and economic imperatives, Brussels’ limited authority and unreliable data.
Here’s POLITICO’s guide to what to expect.
What have EU countries agreed?
The EU has agreed to open much of the European Common Travel Area to some non-EU citizens from Wednesday, July 1. The EU has also decided that the countries it will open up to will be determined by their record of handling the spread of the coronavirus. In particular, whether the country’s infection rate is similar or lower to the EU’s average; whether that rate is going up or down; the country’s overall capacity to deal with the virus (judging on its contract-tracing efforts and its health care system);