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EU seeks last-minute consensus on opening external borders

Brussels, Jun 29 (efe-epa).- European Union countries are finalizing plans to reopen their borders with nations outside the Schengen zone from 1 July.

A list of countries will be drawn up which are considered safe for their citizens to enter the EU after its external borders were closed in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The United States and many nations in Latin America are expected to be excluded from the list as they currently have rising levels of infections.

America has become the global epicentre of the outbreak and the worst affected country, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and deaths exceeding 125,000.

The initial list will be limited to around 15 countries and is likely to include Australia, Algeria, Canada, China, South Korea, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and Rwanda.

It is expected to be finalized on Monday or Tuesday.

Borders are also expected to remain closed for Russia, which has been the worst-affected country in Europe, and Brazil, the hardest-hit in Latin America.

The majority of Latin American nations will also be omitted as the region is currently considered by the World Health Organization as the epicentre of the pandemic with around 25 percent of global infections.

Croatia, which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU until the end of the month, will start a written procedure on Monday that establishes a deadline for member states to respond with their positions, European sources told Efe.

Once the positions of each of the states are known, it will be seen if there is a qualified majority, necessary for an agreement in this area, the same sources indicated.

Ambassadors from the 27 nations failed to reach an agreement on the issue on Friday.

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