EU to start opening external borders from July

Travellers arrive at the 'Leonardo Da Vinci' Rome Airport (Fiumicino), on the second day of the reopening of interegional travel by plane, in Rome, Italy, 4 June 2020. [Telenews/EPA/EFE]

The European Union will fully open internal borders by the end of June and begin lifting restrictions on travel to and from other countries in July, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Friday (5 June).

Johansson told a news conference after a video call among EU interior ministers that she hoped that the borderless Schengen space would start functioning again “no later than the end of June”.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of national borders across the EU with very limited exceptions, such as the “green corridors” for truck drivers.

As the summer tourist season approaches, several nations, including France and Belgium, have announced the reopening of their borders, with more European nations, including Germany, set to follow suit on 15 June. Italy did so on Wednesday.

But despite efforts to coordinate, the moves have been decided piecemeal at national level.

Terezija Gras, State Secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Croatia, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Croatian Presidency of the Council, said that lifting of internal border controls was “a common aim”.

However, she indicated that there was no unanimous decision. A majority of countries wanted controls lifted by 15 June, and others – at the end of June, depending on the epidemiological situation in some member states.

The opening of the external borders will be also coordinated with ECDC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Gras said, adding that the Commission will propose next week guidelines for the opening of the external borders.

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