Commission wants no discrimination in intra-EU travel restrictions

  • Lusa
  • 27 July 2020

The European Commission (EC) called for the application of the non-discrimination rule in travel restrictions.

The European Commission on Monday called for the application of the non-discrimination rule in travel restrictions due to the increase in cases of Covid-19 in some regions adopted by European countries to travel within the EU.

“If a member state decides to apply [the imposition of] quarantine for returnees from certain regions, […] such a measure is possible, but we hope that the rule of non-discrimination between regions with the same epidemiological situation will be respected,” said Stefan De Keersmaecker, spokesman for the EU executive in the areas of public health and transport.

Speaking at the daily press conference of the EU executive in Brussels, he stressed that “what is important is that when a Member State decides to impose restrictions, it uses the same approach towards other countries or regions in the same epidemiological situation.”

In an interview with the Lusa agency released on Sunday, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders assured that the European Commission will monitor restrictions on free movement within the EU due to Covid-19 to ensure “equal treatment” between member states, admitting that Portugal is among the most affected by ‘red lists’.

“We are aware that some member states are placing restrictions on travel from Portugal and this is obviously due to the high number of cases in recent days and weeks, notably [in the Lisbon region],” said Didier Reynders in an interview with Lusa in Brussels.

At a time when Portugal is on the ‘red list’ of many EU countries due to the evolution of the pandemic, mainly because of the increase in the number of infections in Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, the Belgian official argued that “what the other member states are asking more of Portugal is for testing and quarantine”.

Pointing out that “there is not a difficult situation in all places in Portugal,” Didier Reynders called for “specific and targeted measures to be taken to a certain location, where there is an increase in the number of cases” and to avoid a “total ban” on the country.

“The restrictions have to be necessary and proportionate” as well as based “on a scientific approach, scientific analysis and the epidemiological situation”, he stressed.

Mr Reynders pointed out that the European Commission will “continue to discuss with Member States”, guaranteeing that, “if necessary, [the institution] will act if it feels that a certain measure is not necessary or proportionate”.

The position of Didier Reynders, who safeguards the rights of European citizens, is similar to that of Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, who is responsible for free movement within the EU and the Schengen area, who also admitted in an interview with Lusa on Saturday that tensions between member states due to these restrictions had arisen, demanding “proportional” measures.