Minister Arancha González Laya meets with European partners to coordinate measures needed to guarantee freedom of movement around EU this summer
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, held a meeting today with her counterparts from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Slovenia, and with the State secretaries of France and Portugal, to discuss the path to follow towards the restoration of the freedom of movement between Member States, with a view to the summer holidays.

The current COVID-19 crisis means Europe is facing an unprecedented challenge, and has led to an extraordinary shutdown on travel between European countries. The freedom of movement between Member States is an essential right for the European project. The countries participating in today’s video-conference declared their commitment to restoring this freedom to the benefit of our citizens, and acknowledged the significant contribution of companies in the tourist sector to the economy of Member States.

To overcome this setback, the ministers stressed that their priority is avoiding risks to the health of our people, including an increase in COVID-19 infections. Although the common goal remains restoring the freedom of movement of the general public, the participants acknowledged the need to ensure that tourism does not lead to an increase in cases of COVID-19 in the countries of origin, transit and destination. The ministers and State secretaries highlighted the importance of safety measures at borders – both for entry and departure – that are common for all countries, having previously implemented protocols and measures to that end.

The ministers also agreed that all tourist activities will require a responsible approach in the future, with close coordination among European partners. They also agreed on two requirements to lift restrictions on tourism: first, the existence of a low level of infections in the countries of origin and destination; second, the adoption of specific measures on infections, control and health, particularly in the travel and tourism sectors, based on the European Union recommendations published on 13 May 2020.

The ministers also declared that the ongoing exchange of information is key in preference to general warnings against travelling abroad, with the introduction of specific advice based on the respective situations of countries and regions of origin.

In this regard, the participants agreed on the need for coordination on measures to open up borders as from 15 June, with the date for each country depending on the epidemiological situation. The priority continues to be opening up borders within the European Union, although the ministers trusted that discussions would be ongoing to set the criteria on opening up external borders.

The European ministers and State secretaries acknowledged that an increase in infections above critical levels and the failure of measures designed to prevent new infections, or in providing adequate healthcare along the lines of the recommendations of the European Union, could result in the re-introduction of new protective measures, including the re-establishment of official notices warning people not to travel.


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