European Union Urges Six Countries to Ease COVID-19 Border Restrictions

The European Union (EU) has warned six of its member states that their strict travel and border restrictions should be lifted because they undermine free movement of people and goods.

The EU has urged Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, and Sweden to ease their border restrictions, including entry and exit bans, in letters sent on Feb. 22 due to a risk of “fragmentation and disruptions to free movement and to supply chains,” European Commission Spokesperson Christian Wigand said at a daily press briefing.

“We underline the need for free movement restrictions to be non-discriminatory and proportionate, and we urge member states to align their provisions, more closely with the commission recommendations that we have jointly agreed, and review rules on free movement,” Wigand said.

The commission has also given the six countries 10 days to respond and to justify their border restrictions, which EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said have “gone too far.”

According to the commission, they are concerned that the countries have breached commonly agreed COVID-19 guidelines published last January that recommended EU member states to keep their borders open and to only “strongly discourage” non-essential travel.

According to the letters, the EU aims to preserve “the functioning of the Single Market during a volatile economic period, as well as the protection of family life during a time of significantly reduced social contacts outside the core family.”

However, Germany rejected that its border restrictions with the Austrian Tirol region breached EU law.

“These measures obviously put a massive strain on border regions, commuters and the transport of goods and the single market, but the protection of our citizens is paramount,” Germany European Affairs Minister Michael Roth said.

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