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Ireland omitted as EU opens borders to 15 states together with Australia, Canada and Japan

European Union member states approved a list of 15 countries around the world that are deemed safe for travel, agreeing that member states should open their border to them for all travel from Wednesday.

Unusually among EU member states, Ireland is not part of the agreement because it is not in the Schengen area of free travel and has a Common Travel Area with the United Kingdom.

Ireland was invited to take part in the joint agreement, but could only do so if Britain also agreed due to the open border, and it opted not to do so, The Irish Times understands. Denmark is also opting out.

The countries deemed safe are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

China is also to be included, as long as Beijing agrees that EU citizens will also be allowed to travel there in turn.

To qualify countries needed to have coronavirus infections that were close to or below the EU average, and to open their borders to EU citizens in turn, but political considerations also came into play. 

Agreement on the list of countries was repeatedly delayed as countries struggled to forge consensus, with divisions between countries with large tourism industries which pushed for greater opening and those which were more cautious.

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