Published on : Friday, June 12, 2020
On Thursday, the European Commission (EC) recommended Schengen visa zone member states and Schengen associated states to lift internal border controls by June 15. The commission also asked the regions to extend the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the European Union until June 30, 2020. It mentioned in an official statement that the Commission does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at a stage when health conditions in certain third countries continue to remain critical.
It has been advised that restriction should be lifted for countries collectively selected by member states, based on a set of principles and objectives. With regard to data collected from relevant sources such as ECDC and WHO, these countries should have a control over the health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel and the capability of reciprocating considerations.
Meanwhile, EC has proposed countries that will continue to observe travel restrictions, to enlarge the categories of permitted travellers or essential travel. In addition, the Commission has also planned to issue guidance to member states to ensure that resumption of visa operations abroad is rightly coordinated with the gradual ease of travel restrictions.
On the other hand, the commission have also mentioned that actions at EU’s external borders should be coordinated and uniform in order to be effective. EC said that as travellers entering the EU begin to move freely from one country to another, it is highly essential for member states to co-ordinate their decisions on lifting travel restrictions. It has been advised that member states should provide mutual consent on a common list of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as of July 1. The list is also subjected to review on a regular basis depending on the coronavirus situation.
The commission has introduced few conditions based on which travel restrictions can end for certain countries. It has been advised that an objective criterion that considers the epidemiological situation of a particular country is followed before taking a final decision. The COVID-19 scenario and ability of application of containment measures during travel should be taken into consideration. It would also be noticed if the country has lifted travel restrictions towards the EU.
The Commission has also proposed a common and coordinated approach and has decided to support Member and Schengen States at technical level to prepare the list of countries. Decisions would be taken in line with the EU’s integrated political crisis response mechanism. However, the states have also been asked to maintain flexibility so that they can reintroduce travel restrictions for a specific country if the criteria are no longer met.
Additionally, Member States would be authorised to refuse entry to any non-EU traveller that poses a threat to public health even if they arrive from a country for which restrictions were lifted. However, it has been decided that individuals travelling to study as well as highly skilled non-EU workers with essential employment from an economic perspective who fail to work from abroad will be exempted from all travel restrictions.
However, it has been decided that individuals travelling to study as well as highly skilled non-EU workers with essential employment from an economic perspective who fail to work from abroad will be exempted from all travel restrictions. EU citizens and citizens of Schengen Associated States and non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU, as well as their family members, would also be exempted from the travel restriction.
After the previous roadmap on lifting containment measures presented during April, certain member states have already lifted restrictions within the EU. The commission have urged remaining member states to finalise the process of removing restrictions to free movement and lifting internal border controls within the EU as removal of internal is important before moving towards external borders in the second stage.