The United States is currently the country most affected by COVID-19 with more than 125,000 deaths.
European Union will reopen the borders to citizens of 14 countries starting from July 1: the list includes Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Uruguay, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Georgia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Travelers from China would be approved to enter, but under the condition that Beijing would do the same for Europeans.
The document is yet to be formally agreed by the Council of the European Union next week.
Some EU countries have requested a delay in the decision for further examination, meaning the decision may be revised. The list is not entirely binding, border management remains a matter of national decision.
“There are still ongoing consultations, which will continue until Monday,” an EU source said.
“There is no visibility on where this will go, but the presidency still hopes to put this matter to a vote on Monday,” the source added.
Brussels is following a principle of a joint agreement by EU countries based on criteria such as “health status, ability to apply containment measures during travel and reciprocity considerations”.
For now, countries like the United States, Russia, and Brazil are left out, where the epidemiological situation does not offer security for fear of new outbreaks.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 9,724,100 people have been infected worldwide and more than 492,000 deaths have been reported.
EU residents spent 377 euro for a vacation in 2017 on average, while the residents of the Czech Republic ranked last, with a 140-euro average allotted for their holidays, according to data released by Eurostat on Tuesday.
Czechs spent around €72 for domestic trips and €430 for holidays abroad. All trips included, they spent an average of €34 per night.
Slovaks appear much less cost-conscious, with an average expenditure of €249 per trip (€138 in Slovakia and €454 for outbound trips), or an average of €62 per night – nearly twice as much as Czechs.
The biggest spenders in Europe in terms of vacations are the residents of Luxembourg, with a 769-euro average for a holiday in 2017, followed by those of Austria (641 euro) and those of Malta (633 euro). On the opposite end, there are those from Hungary (161 euro for a vacation in 2017), Latvia (155 euro), Bulgaria (153 euro).
The Eurostat data also show that in only eight of the 28 EU member states more than half of the total expenses on tourism were made in domestic destinations. Romania is a leader in this chapter (where 79 percent of the 2.245 billion euro of the total tourism expenses were made in domestic destinations), followed by Greece (76pct), Spain (66pct), France and Portugal (both with 65pct), Bulgaria and Italy (both with 64pct).
Europeans traveling to other continents spent most on travelling to the US (8 percent of total EU spending on tourist travel), followed by Asia (6 percent), Africa (3 percent) and Oceania (1 percent). European destinations outside the EU accounted for about 4 percent of all EU residents’ tourist spending.
EU residents spent around € 467bn on travel for tourism purposes in 2017.
German, French and British tourists were the biggest consumers in absolute terms. Their expenditure accounted for 58 per cent of all EU tourist spending.
More than 120,000 citizens marched in Prague on Monday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, following ongoing public discontent and a recent decision from the European Commission (EC) that Babiš has significant conflicts of interest related to his private businesses.
The decision follows an initiative from Transparency International Czech Republic (TI-CZ), which filed a complaint to the EC last year highlighting Babiš’s conflicts of interest.
The complaint resulted in an audit by EC officials in the Czech Republic, an analysis of the EC’s Legal Service and, ultimately, led to the Commission’s decision last week that Czech Republic repay 17 million euro of EU subsidies that Babiš’s company received over the last two years.
“It is good news not only for us as authors of the initiative, but mainly a victory for all citizens and taxpayers in the Czech Republic and Europe. Prime Minister Babiš’s unprecedented conflict of interest has been confirmed. Now the consequences of the conflict need to be resolved immediately so that the national and European budgets recuperate the costs,” comments David Ondráčka, Director of TI-CZ and member of Transparency International’s global Board.
“The EU decision highlights that the rules apply to everyone, even prime ministers,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International. “Political leaders should not be allowed to hide behind obscure, non-transparent structures, reaping the benefits at the expense of citizens,” she added.
Timeline of events
In June 2018, TI-CZ revealed that Prime Minister Babiš was a controlling entity of Agrofert, a company that operates in agriculture, construction, logistics, and other sectors. As the sole beneficiary of two trust funds that own 100 percent of the shares of Agrofert, Babiš received millions of euros in EU subsidies each year.
As a result of this discovery, TI-CZ uncovered another conflict of interest involving Babiš and filed a series of complaints with both Czech and EU authorities.
First, in August 2018, TI-CZ filed a complaint with the Czech authorities concerning the prime minister’s conflict of interest in relation to media ownership.
As part of its many holdings, Agrofert owns a publishing company called MAFRA. However, Czech law prohibits government ministers, including the prime minister, from owning or controlling any media outlets.
Second, in September 2018, TI-CZ sent a complaint and open letter to the European Commission concerning Babiš’s conflict of interest as a beneficial owner of Agrofert.
As a result, in December 2018, the European Commission suspended subsidies to Agrofert and last Friday, after a thorough review of the case, the EC confirmed that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš maintains significant conflicts of interest.
In addition, in January 2019, Czech authorities found the prime minister had a conflict of interest in relation to his media holdings. Babiš appealed and Czech authorities are currently reviewing the case again. TI-CZ urges Czech authorities to take into account the EC’s recent decisions regarding this case.