The Foreign Ministers of 11 European Union Member States are leading a coordinated effort to restore free movement and travel between Member States. The effort comes as a way for Europe to eventually completely reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.
The Foreign Ministers of Germany, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Cyprus, and Bulgaria met on an online video conference to discuss necessary action to restore free movement and travel in Europe.
During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers agreed and reiterated that it was their common goal to restore free movement for any purpose, rather than just essential purposes. These nonessential reasons could include tourism, visiting family and friends, or simple pleasure.
The Member States also agreed that the epidemiological situation should be regularly updated and the center of the coordinated effort. The actions that they take, they said, should always correspond with the current epidemiological situation in specific areas in the EU.
A press release from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs detailed this sentiment when bringing news of the meeting.
“We believe that a process in stages that the EU-Conciling Member States with each other is the best way to normalize cross-border travel gradually. It will be crucial to explore how travel can be made possible without the risk of an increase in infections getting out of control,” the press release reads.
Given that the epidemiological situation allows and positively corresponds with the actions taken by Member States, the Foreign Ministers agrees that free movement across borders can take place. They note that the process should be gradual and merits attention that would not be given to other situations.
“We believe that the restoration of cross-border free movement can take place gradually if the current positive trends continue to lead to epidemiologically comparable situations in the home and target countries. The reopening of border crossings and thus the situation of cross-border commuters deserve special attention,” the press release reads.
The European tourism industry, which has suffered immensely from the border closures and restricted travel, is now also being expected to take extra measures. The Foreign Ministers agreed that tourism companies and relevant private entities should take reasonable measures to protect tourists and travelers once the borders open and tourism is restored. No specific measures were outlined, however.