EU impasse poses threat to Greek tourism
ATHENS: 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 on Wednesday, 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 on Friday, 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.