EU Should Open All Internal Borders from June 15, EC Recommends
The closure of internal EU borders is not an effective measure against the spread of the coronavirus, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The member states of the European Union and of Schengen Agreement should reopen all of their intra-EU borders as of Monday, June 15, the European Commission, the EU executive, has urged.
The announcement by EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, comes as more and more European countries are gradually easing the lockdowns imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, the Commission also recommended that the member states prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU until June 30, 2020, and that they start lifting all restrictions after that date.
“Given that the health situation in certain third countries remains critical, the Commission does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at this stage,” the EU executive body said.
It added that EU member states should select together which third countries could warrant a lifting of travel restrictions on part of the Union.
That decision should be made based on the respective third countries’ “health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and reciprocity considerations, taking into account data from relevant sources such as ECDC and WHO.”
“Following the lifting of all internal border checks inside the Union, we are proposing a clear and flexible approach towards removing restrictions on travel to the EU starting on 1 July,”EU Commissioner Johansson said.
“International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting. While we will all have to remain careful, the time has come to make concrete preparations for lifting restrictions with countries whose health situation is similar to the EU’s and for resuming visa operations,” she added.
The Commissioner emphasized that the virus situation “is really improving in all member states, the situation is converging.”
She also quoted the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control as saying “that having internal border restrictions is not an effective measure.”
The European Commission also recommended the lifting travel restrictions for non-EU countries in the Western Balkans, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia as of July 1, but on the condition that their coronavirus situation is “similar or better” than that of the EU.
EU member states whose economies rely heavily on tourism – such as Portugal and Greece – have been advocating the reopening of intra-EU borders to save their tourism sectors and prop up their economies.
A number of EU member states have already started to reopen their intra-EU or intra-Schengen borders.
Germany is to completely lift travel restrictions with all its neighbors as of June 15, DW reported.
It already began to open its borders with neighbors Austria, Switzerland, and France on May 16, and its borders with the Netherlands and Belgium never totally shut.
France is also set to relax measures on nonessential travel as of June 15.
Italy’s borders were never technically closed but international travel was seriously restricted by measures at airports and border closures by its neighbors.
Spain already reopened its borders but imposed a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine regulation on anyone who arrives in the country, a measure, which is to be lifted as of July.
Slovenia reopened its borders for EU travelers on May 15 when it declared an end to the COVID-19 epidemic in the country.
Its neighbor Croatia permitted tourists from Slovenia last month and exempted them from quarantine.
Other EU members in Southeast Europe, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania, also opened their borders for travel as of June 1.
(Banner image: Schengen Visa Info website)