Twenty-five years ago today, European Member States abolished border controls between them.

Like weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties, we will mark this historic moment in the process of European integration once things return to normal – and they will return to normal.

As an initial response to the corona-crisis, Member States temporarily reinstated border controls. Understandably: limiting travel also limits social interaction.

We are now working with Member States to keep goods and medical supplies flowing and to help people join work on another side of a border or their families. And we continue to see big improvements in the border situation every day.

Still, I do not want this day to pass in silence. The start of implementation of the Schengen Agreements – the abolishing of internal border controls between 7 European countries – deserves to be remembered.

We can deal with this crisis, because of the resilience we built up during twenty-five years of Schengen. Because in 25 years Schengen has helped us to grow a strong European economy. Because open borders also brought closer cooperation between our countries, and strengthened the ties that bind the peoples of Europe.

The abolition of internal border controls also led to the gradual strengthening of external border checks, common procedures for issuing visas, the establishment of a Schengen Information System and common action against drug trafficking, among many others.

That investment in European integration and cooperation is paying off today.

Don’t forget it’s only because of Schengen, that we could quickly join forces and set travel restrictions on the external European borders.

Sometimes you only realise how much you miss something, once it’s gone. Today more than ever, we realise we can take nothing for granted.

So, we will celebrate in better times. But let us today, in these times when we are closed into our homes, our towns, our countries, take a moment to reflect how important it is to be free.

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