In light of the new COVID-19 variants, the EU wants tougher border rules for all non-essential travels. They want similar measures across all member states.
The message was clear after the four-hour conference of the members of the European Council on 21 January 2021.
Since it is crucial for the economy to keep the borders open, EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel strongly discourage everyone from all non-essential travel in order to better contain the spread of the virus.
This includes trips both within the country and across the borders.
“Borders need to stay open to ensure the functioning of the Single Market, including the flow of essential goods and services. No indiscriminate travel bans should be imposed. However, measures restricting non-essential travel in the EU may be needed to contain the spread of the virus.”
During the first wave, in March last year, several member states closed national borders unilaterally, triggering travel and economic chaos. In order to keep the single market functioning, the EU wants to keep the borders open so that workers and freight can continue to cross.
“We will only contain the virus if we have targeted measures, and not unnecessary measures like a blanket closure of borders, which would severely hurt our economy, but not very much restrict the virus,” von der Leyen said.
The new virus variants, like the ones spreading in the UK and Portugal, pose a new threat. EU leaders work towards accelerated vaccination.
“Vaccines should be distributed at the same time and must be on a pro-rata/population basis. All possible means will be examined to ensure rapid supply, including early distribution to avoid delays. Leaders agreed to work on a standardised and interoperable form of proof of vaccination for medical purposes.”