Joint statement by Foreign Affairs Ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia
The Foreign Affairs Ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia met today, 18 May 2020, by video-conference to discuss a coordinated approach to restoring the European value of the freedom of movement and travel within the EU.

The freedom of movement and travel within Europe is a fundamental part of the European project. Our aim is for everyone to be able to freely move once again, whether for professional, educational or simply personal reasons, in accordance with the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.

Against the backdrop of the current coronavirus pandemic, Europe needs to guarantee much more – the freedom of safe movement throughout the EU.

Hence, we welcome the guidelines published by the European Commission on 13 May in its Communications entitled “Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond”, “Towards a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls”, “COVID-19: Guidelines on the progressive restoration of transport services and connectivity” and “COVID-19: EU Guidelines for the progressive resumption of tourism services and for health protocols in hospitality establishments”, which constitute an important starting point for talks between European partners, with a view to agreeing certain criteria and a timeframe for the next steps.

In this context, we agree on the following principles:

- We believe that the best way to achieve the progressive normalisation of cross-border travel is a gradual, coordinated and consensual focus among EU Member States.

- It will be fundamental to study the way to allow travel while preventing the risk of a second wave of infections spinning out of control.

- It will be crucial to ensure that our citizens can not only freely travel around Europe, but can also return to their country of origin safely. Hence, we must closely coordinate the conditions to lift the lockdown and quarantine rules, as well as to re-establish transport services. In this context, it will also be important to work on a common interpretation of the health rules and procedures.

- We believe that it is possible to progressively re-establish free cross-border movements, provided that the current positive trends continue descending in comparable epidemiological situations in both countries of origin and destination. The re-opening of border points, particularly as regards the situation of cross-border workers, deserves special attention.

We urge tourism companies and related private agents to use the coming weeks to adopt suitable preventive measures to protect travellers once the freedom of movement and travel is restored. We believe that this is a key element in recovering the confidence of citizens regarding safe travel.

We also invite the public to continue paying close heed to the health information that the competent national and European authorities issue.

Although the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic at this time still varies from one country to another, our common goal is to coordinate, as far as possible, the approaches of our European partners, in order to re-establish the freedom of movement and safe travel in the near future.


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