The European Commission has drawn up a set of criteria and guidelines that will gradually allow for the reopening of Europe’s external borders from July 1.
Using a checklist created by the Commission, European countries will be asked to draw up a list of non-European Union countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted, to be reviewed on a regular basis.
The decision to lift restrictions for a specific country will be based on whether that country is in a similar or better epidemiological situation than Europe, whether it has comparable hygiene measures at its transport hubs and whether or not that country has lifted travel restrictions for the EU.
Announcing the guidelines, Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said she hoped the list “can become longer and longer and have more and more countries on it. But that has to be taken gradually.”
If it’s decided that restrictions are to remain in place for a country, the commission proposes gradually increasing the categories of permitted travellers to include, for instance, international students or highly-skilled non-EU workers.
“While we will all have to remain careful, the time has come to make concrete preparations for lifting restrictions,” said Johansson. “International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting.”
The decision to open external borders will be closely monitored and travel restrictions may be reintroduced for a specific country at any time if the health situation in that country changes, the commission said.
The decision to open and close borders remain the prerogative of an individual European country. But the commission stressed the need for the lifting of restrictions to be done in a coordinated way across Europe.
European external borders have been closed since March following the outbreak of the coronavirus.