Sri Lanka discusses EU decision not to open borders to Sri Lankans

Sri Lanka has discussed the EU decision not to open its borders to Sri Lankans.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations noted the decision of the European Union to reopen its external borders on 1 July 2020 initially to a list of less than 15 countries that does not include Sri Lanka.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka accredited to European Union in Brussels which has been actively lobbying for Sri Lanka’s inclusion in the list was informed by the European Commission that it has not yet considered countries that have not opened airports nor accepted visitors from the EU region.

The Embassy was further informed that the list will be progressively expanded depending on the progress made in the epidemiological situation in countries, the ability to apply containment measures during travel and whether or not that country has lifted travel restrictions towards the EU countries.

Yesterday the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka and the EU Member States Embassies in Colombo issued a clarification on lifting the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU and reports that Sri Lanka was not included in the list of selected countries.

The EU and Member States Ambassadors resident in Colombo recognise the successful efforts of the Sri Lankan Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, a statement said.

The statement said that with the process of lifting internal border controls well underway, the EU is now preparing for the gradual reopening to travel from outside the EU.

The decision to lift travel restrictions with non-EU countries is ultimately the prerogative of EU Member States and the Schengen Associated Countries, the statement said.

To that effect, Member States and Associated countries have been working together to agree an initial positive list of countries with which borders could be reopened soon on the basis of objective criteria, including the epidemiological situation in the given country and possibility to seek reciprocity with the country concerned.

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka and the EU Member States Embassies in Colombo said the short list being examined at the moment is limited to 15 countries and it can be seen as a first step towards a return to normal.

The statement added that the absence of a country on the positive list should therefore not be considered as being blacklisted. (Colombo Gazette)