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EU Shuts Borders to Limit Spread of Coronavirus

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

European Union member countries on Tuesday officially decided to reinforce its external borders by applying a coordinated temporary restriction of “non-essential travel” from third nations for a period of 30 days, aiming to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus globally.

“The priority is the health of our citizens… We endorsed the guidelines proposed by the Commission on border management,” European Council President Charles Michel said during a press conference, following a video conference with members of the Council.

Referring to EU citizens stranded in third countries, Michel stressed that they must be able to travel back home.

“We committed to coordinate among our embassies and the EU delegations in third countries… We will jointly arrange repatriation of EU citizens, where necessary and possible, and make use of the Union’s Civil protection mechanism,” he said, adding that additional EU funding for such joint operations will be mobilised.

During the video conference, the EU leaders welcomed a decision taken by the Commission to adopt a prior authorisation for export of medical equipment and support research such as the Advisory Group on Covid-19.

“We stressed the need to share information and to develop a vaccine and make it available to all those in need. We will support European companies in that respect,” he said.

Tackling socio-economic consequences was also underlined as a priority by Michel.

“The Union and its Member States will do whatever it takes to address the current challenges, to restore confidence and to support a rapid recovery, for the sake of our citizens,” he said.

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