The European countries have discussed today the idea of introducing a ban on entry to the 26-state Schengen passport-free travel zone, which would cover all non-essential visits from third countries, with exemptions including for citizens of the Schengen area, people familiar with the work.
The proposal was announced by the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore, I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU.”
“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, but can be prolonged as necessary.”
Later on, she also tweeted about the decision.
“The EU Commission presents guidelines on border measures & proposes:
1. Green lanes/fast lanes giving priority to essential transport to keep the mobility sector going & ensure economic continuity
2. Temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU (30 days),”
The move comes after several EU and Schengen Area Member Countries started introducing border checks on their own, banning from entering all travellers that were not their passport holders, including Germany and Estonia.
If it comes into force, the ban will apply to all non-essential travel to the Schengen area. The EU but non-Schengen countries of Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria will also be invited to also implement the restrictions.
The idea of such a measure has been discussed on a phone call this morning between French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of the European Commission and Council.
The news related to the decision comes just a few hours after the Civil Liberties Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar demanded proportionality and coordination within the EU on the reintroduction of border controls at some Schengen internal borders due to coronavirus.
“In the last days, several EU member states have reintroduced border controls at their internal borders within the Schengen area or even closed them for certain categories of travellers while some further member states are considering such measures,” the Chair said.
He further urged all member states to take their measures in full respect of the principles of proportionality and, above all, solidarity among EU Member States, non-discrimination and the applicable Schengen rules.
EU to Halt Entry for Foreigners – Britons Remain Unaffected
The decision to ban foreigners from entering may also apply to the non-Schengen EU Member States, Romania, Cyprus, Croatia and Bulgaria. Ireland and the UK, however, will not apply it.
The EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen while announcing the proposal, said that UK citizens, though in the transitional period of leaving the EU, would not be subject to the entry ban,
“The UK citizens are European citizens, so, of course, there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the Continent,” she explained.
According to the proposal, while all non-essential entry to EU will be halted, excluded are doctors, medical staff and cross-border workers.