Migration and Home Affairs

The Commission presents a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls

Friday, 15 May, 2020

On 13 May 2020, the Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to help Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen.

As part of the package, the Commission adopted the Communication "Towards a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls". The purpose of this Communication is to invite Member States to engage in a process of reopening unrestricted cross-border movement within the Union.

The Communication proposes a phased and coordinated approach that starts by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with sufficiently similar epidemiological situations. The approach must also be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires. Member States should act on the basis of the following 3 criteria:

  • Epidemiological criteria, notably focusing on areas where situation is improving, based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and using the regional map developed by the ECDC;
  • The ability to apply containment measures throughout the whole journey including at border crossings, including additional safeguards and measures where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure and
  • Economic and social considerations, initially prioritising cross-border movement in key areas of activity and including personal reasons. 

This Communication sets out the progressive lifting of domestic and cross-border restrictions in line with the principle of non-discrimination. When a Member State decides to allow travel into its territory or to specific regions and areas within its territory, it should do so in a non-discriminatory manner – allowing travel from all areas, regions or countries in the EU with similar epidemiological conditions. In the same vein, any restrictions must be lifted without discrimination, to all EU citizens and to all residents of that Member State regardless of their nationality, and should be applied to all parts of the Union in a similar epidemiological situation.

The Commission's Tourism and Transport package also includes:

  • An overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond;
  • A phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls;
  • A framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel;
  • A recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers;
  • Criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels.

Background

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the introduction of unprecedented measures across EU Member States, including reintroduced checks at the internal borders.

On 16 March, the Commission adopted Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services. These guidelines set out principles for an integrated approach to an effective border management to protect health while preserving the integrity of the Single Market. .

The Communication towards a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls follows the pathway set by the Joint European Roadmap published by the Commission on 15 April in cooperation with the European Council. The Roadmap provided a gradual approach to phasing-out containment measures introduced due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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