The European Commission on Thursday recommended to Schengen Member States and Schengen Associated States to lift internal border controls by June 15 and to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU until June 30.
“Following the lifting of all internal border checks inside the Union, we are proposing a clear and flexible approach towards removing restrictions on travel to the EU starting on 1 July. International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting,” Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said.
In an announcement, the Commission said it does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at this stage, given that the health situation in certain third countries remains critical.
“The restriction should be lifted for countries selected together by Member States, based on a set of principles and objective criteria including the health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and reciprocity considerations, taking into account data from relevant sources such as ECDC and WHO,” the Commission said.
The Commission has proposed a detailed checklist to help Member States agree on a common list (to be reviewed on a regular basis) of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as of July 1. The Commission added that decisions on lifting travel restrictions would concern non-EU nationals residing in a specific country (not its nationals).
In its aim for Member States to take a common and coordinated approach, the Commission proposed a coordination mechanism whereby it would support at technical level and facilitate the preparation of a list of countries for which travel restrictions could be lifted.
The Commission also proposed for Member States to reintroduce travel restrictions for a specific country if the criteria are no longer met.
“In addition, Member States can still refuse entry to a non-EU traveller presenting a threat to public health, even coming from a country for which restrictions were lifted,” the Commission said.
In line with the proposed checklist, the Commission also recommends to lift travel restrictions for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia as of July 1, given that their epidemiological situation is similar or better than that of the EU.
For countries towards which the restriction remains in place, the Commission proposed to enlarge the categories of permitted travellers to include, for instance, international students. The Commission is also issuing guidance to Member States to ensure that the resumption of visa operations abroad is well coordinated with the gradual lifting of the travel restrictions.