Eleven European nations agree on freedom of movement to restore tourism


Eleven European Union (EU) member states have agreed on a set of principles to ensure freedom of safe travel, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agreement was announced following a videoconference that took place between the ministers of foreign affairs of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Austria and Slovenia.

“Freedom of movement and travelling across Europe is a fundamental part of the European project,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

In accordance with the guidelines announced recently by the European Commission for restoring tourism and transport in the post-Covid-19 period, the ministers’ agreement focuses on a phased and coordinated approach for lifting internal border controls in order for citizens to move freely in the Union and be able to return home.

According to the joint statement, four principles were agreed on:

– An approach of phased steps, coordinated and agreed among EU Member States, to achieve a gradual normalization of cross-border travelling.
– Exploring ways of allowing travel while avoiding an increase in (coronavirus) infections.
– To ensure that EU citizens cannot just travel freely within Europe, but can also safely return home. “Thus, we need to coordinate closely regarding conditions for lifting rules of confinement and of quarantine and regarding the restoration of transport services… it will also be important to work on a common understanding of health-related standards and procedures.”
– The restoration of the freedom of cross-border movements can be achieved progressively, provided current positive trends continue leading to comparable epidemiological situations in countries of origin and of destination.

“We call on tourism businesses and related private actors to use the coming weeks to take appropriate precautionary measures to protect travellers once freedom of movement and travelling is restored. We believe this is a crucial element to rebuild public trust in the safety of travelling,” the joint statement said.