The European Commission announced today that it has asked six Member States, including Belgium and Germany, to provide explanations within ten days of traffic restrictions linked to the Covid-19 epidemic which it considers disproportionate.
The Commission explained that it had sent notes to Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Hungary imposing stricter restrictions than those recommended by the European Union, including a ban on entry into their territory.
The letters, a spokesman for the commission said, reminded “the need for non-discriminatory travel restrictions” and called on the governments concerned to synchronize with the recommendations adopted jointly by the 27.
Countries have ten days to respond to the Commission, which does not rule out the possibility of initiating infringement proceedings against them.
“It is in the interest of the countries themselves, which we trust will find solutions without having to resort to legal remedies,” said a European Commission spokesman.
The restrictions of Belgium
In Belgium, all unnecessary travel to and from the country is prohibited from 27 January. The measure, which has been extended until 1 April, is considered problematic by the Commission, which accuses the authorities of failing to take into account the epidemiological situation in the traveler’s area of origin or destination.
For its part, Berlin has been actively filtering crossings with the Czech Republic and Austrian Tyrol since mid-February to control the spread of virus variants. Border residents and truck drivers can only pass a very recent PCR test.
In a letter sent to the German diplomatic mission in the EU, the Commission criticized the measure.
“We believe that Germany’s well-understood goal of protecting public health could be achieved through less restrictive measures,” the email said.
Avoid closing borders
In another note sent last week, the Commission urged the 27 to avoid border closures and general travel bans.
The difficult co-ordination of bans that impede free movement was on the menu of the 27-nation Foreign Ministers’ meeting yesterday, ahead of Thursday’s European summit.
German Foreign Minister Michael Roth today dismissed allegations of breach of European law, saying his country was following the rules of the Schengen area.
“We have an obligation to take action against the virus mutations, with the priority of protecting our citizens,” he said.
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