EU leaders on Tuesday are expected to greenlight a temporary closure of the bloc’s external borders in a bid to ramp up coordination among member states in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU Commission on Monday said the bloc should ban non-essential travel into the EU+ area, defined as all countries in the Schengen Zone as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
The temporary measure would also include Ireland and the United Kingdom “if they decide to align,” the Commission wrote in preliminary guidelines to the proposal.
EU heads of state are set to discuss the measure in a meeting held via videoconference on Tuesday afternoon, in which they are also expected to outline a course of action regarding the bloc’s internal borders.
The call by the EU Commission to impose the border comes after at least ten EU states moved to reinstate controls with bordering EU countries, among which figured Denmark, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic or Slovakia.
“We must coordinate the measures we take,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press conference on Monday evening, adding that while the measures were difficult they were necessary in the current situation.
“Such a measure would also enable the lifting of internal border control measures, which several Member States have recently reintroduced in an effort to limit the spread of the virus,” according to the Commission.
In the address, von der Leyen said that the measure would not apply to EU citizens coming back home, to health care workers or to cross-border commuters.
The travel restrictions should be put in place for an initial period of 30 days which could be prolonged if necessary, the Commission said in a press release.
The Brussels Times