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EU to keep COVID-19 curbs on non-essential travel amid chaotic border measures


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EU to keep COVID-19 curbs on non-essential travel amid chaotic border measures

By Gabriela Baczynska and Sabine Siebold

 

2021-02-23T125835Z_1_LYNXMPEH1M0R8_RTROPTP_4_EU-ENERGY-BUILDINGS.JPG

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

 

BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) - European Union government leaders will agree on Thursday to maintain curbs on non-essential travel within the EU despite the bloc's executive asking six countries to ease border restrictions on Tuesday.

 

Unilateral moves by EU member countries to combat the spread of new coronavirus variants has disrupted the flow of goods within the bloc's 27-nation single market and risks shutting parts of the Franco-German border.

 

Draft conclusions for an EU leaders video-conference on Thursday and Friday, seen by Reuters, said countries would agree non-essential travel in the bloc must remain restricted because the risk of COVID-19 contagion remains serious and new variants of the virus pose additional challenges.

 

"Restrictive measures (regarding) non-essential travel may still be needed to contain the spread of the virus," European Council President Charles Michel wrote in a letter to EU government leaders ahead of the meeting.

 

The executive European Commission is seeking a coordinated approach to border curbs among EU states. It said on Tuesday it had given Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden 10 days to justify their unilateral restrictions, which Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said had "gone too far".

 

A European Commission spokesman said the bloc risked "fragmentation and disruptions to free movement and to supply chains - something we have witnessed again the past weeks".

 

Germany, having introduced checks along its normally open frontiers with the Czech Republic and Austria, was in talks with France on averting similar measures in the eastern French Moselle region that borders Germany.

 

The Moselle region has experienced a surge in a more easily transmissible variant of the coronavirus, as have Austria's Alpine Tyrol region and the Czech Republic.

 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for "common standards for travel and the transport of goods within the EU to ensure the functioning of the single market".

 

'MASSIVE STRAIN'

In a patchwork response to the spread of more transmissible coronavirus mutations, nine EU countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.

 

The Commission focused on six, including Germany and neighbouring Belgium where extra restrictions on movement include a complete ban on non-essential trips into and out of the latter country.

 

Michael Roth, Germany's Europe Minister, defended Berlin's actions. "These measures obviously put a massive strain on border regions...but the protection of our citizens is paramount," he said.

 

French Europe minister Clement Beaune told Reuters that Berlin and Paris had given themselves 48 hours to coordinate health measures such as increased testing in the Moselle region to avoid shutting their border there.

 

"Our cross-border workers need to move around for their work and daily lives," Beaune said.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron says internal borders between EU countries should remain open. He clashed with Germany last year after Berlin closed frontiers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Germany now aims to avoid the blanket border controls that were imposed in 2020, sources in Berlin said as the Czech Republic asked for EU help to ease Germany's restrictions.

 

(Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris and Kate Abnett in Brussels; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-24
 
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7 hours ago, webfact said:

French President Emmanuel Macron says internal borders between EU countries should remain open. He clashed with Germany last year after Berlin closed frontiers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

A bit like the mask hording fiasco last year. When the chips are really down, the nation member states within the EU drop the charade and look after themselves with little regard for the other EU states. 

 

Maybe a more effective vaccine procurement strategy would have helped?

 

I'm not sure how Britain is expected to be completely free of import/export problems with the EU when the EU can't even manage their own internal borders as soon as issues arise, as the paragraph below shows...

 

image.png.9a7655ae7508ac31bc6182f23d270b6a.png

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1 hour ago, JonnyF said:

 

When the chips are really down, the nation member states within the EU drop the charade and look after themselves with little regard for the other EU states. 

Brexiteer: Claims EU member states aren’t sovereign and can’t decide unilaterally.  

Also Brexiteer: Admits EU member states decide unilaterally as sovereign states. 

 

1 hour ago, JonnyF said:

A bit like the mask hording fiasco last year.  (...) Maybe a more effective vaccine procurement strategy would have helped?

Brexiteer: EU member states procuring alone is a fiasco. 


Also Brexiteer: EU members states should not procure together. 

 

😂 

 

 

 

  • Haha 1
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