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EU shuts borders to non-essential travel for 30 days

EU shuts borders to non-essential travel for 30 days

Coronavirus video conference - Photo © European Union 2020

(BRUSSELS) - EU leaders agreed in a video conference Tuesday that they would reinforce the EU's external borders by placing coordinated, temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU for a period of 30 days.

At the virtual meeting, leaders also endorsed guidelines proposed by the Commission on border management. "We need to ensure passage of medicines, food and goods and our citizens must be able to travel to their home countries," said the Council's president Charles Michel after the meeting.

This was the second meeting of its kind. Earlier this month the members of the European Council discussed, by video conference, how to coordinate EU efforts. They stressed the need for a joint European approach and close coordination with the European Commission. They agreed that health ministers and interior ministers should consult with one another on a daily basis to ensure proper coordination of and direction for common European guidance.

Discussion here focused on:

  • limiting the spread of the virus
  • the provision of medical equipment, with a particular focus on masks and respirators
  • promoting research, including research into a vaccine
  • tackling socio-economic consequences
  • helping citizens stranded in third countries

"We reaffirmed the need to work together and to do everything necessary to tackle the crisis and its consequences," said M Michel.

On medical equipment, leaders supported Commission efforts to:

  • engage with the industry
  • run joint public procurement procedures that have recently been launched and those that will shortly be finalised so as to provide sufficient protective equipment
  • purchase protective equipment through the civil protection framework

On promoting research, Council members stressed the need to share information and to develop a vaccine and make it available to all those in need. They showed support for European companies in that respect.

On the socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak,  leaders endorsed the Eurogroup statement of 16 March and invited the Eurogroup to continuously and closely monitor economic and financial developments and to adapt without delay a coordinated policy response to the rapidly evolving situation.

They also supported the various initiatives taken by the Commission in the areas of the single market, such as the adaptation of the state aid rules and the use of the flexibility provided for in the Stability and Growth Pact and the recourse to the EU budget.

Regarding help for  citizens stranded in third countries, the leaders confirmed their commitment to coordinating between their embassies and the EU delegations in third countries. "We will jointly arrange repatriation of EU citizens, where necessary and possible, and make use of the Union's Civil protection mechanism", said President Michel.

Leaders have now decided to postpone the ordinary European Council due to be held on 26 and 27 March. They agreed to hold another video conference next week.

COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak (background information)

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