Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission has called on EU member states to ease border restrictions, stressing the need to find a coordinated approach to border management, Reuters reports. The EC noted that it had given Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden ten days to explain the border restrictions they imposed.
European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said the restrictions had “gone too far”. He urged member states to “go back to a coordinated approach to all the measures taken in relation with the free movement of people and goods”.
An unnamed EC spokesman warned the bloc risks “fragmentation and disruptions to free movement and to supply chains – something we have witnessed again the past weeks”.
In a bid to control the spread of new coronavirus variants, nine member states have imposed travel restrictions in the bloc’s free travel zone, but the EC is focusing on the six that have imposed additional restrictions, including bans on non-essential travel.
German Minister defends restrictions
Germany’s Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, acknowledged that the restrictions the government had imposed “obviously put a massive strain on border regions… but the protection of our citizens is paramount.”
Clément Beaune, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, noted that Germany and France agreed to coordinate their health measures within 48 hours and would try to keep at least a part of the border open.
Germany has introduced restrictions along its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic. It is in discussions with France about avoiding similar measures on their shared border in the Moselle region, where the French side has been hit by a surge in the more easily transmissible variant of the coronavirus.
Prompted by traffic disruptions on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic this month, EU foreign ministers held a video conference on Tuesday to discuss border travel issues and health.