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Brussels tries to avoid the mess at the borders

The EU is trying to bring order to the restrictions on free movement after the border closures decided by Germany and Belgium against the spread of variants, despite recommendations adopted at European level.

The EU is trying to bring order to the restrictions on free movement after the border closures decided by Germany and Belgium against the spread of variants, despite recommendations adopted at European level.

(AFP) – Brussels bangs its fist on the table and calls the 27 to order. The European Commission announced on Monday that it would send a letter to all the member states to remind them of their commitments to coordinate. The goal: to avoid reliving the chaos in transport following the messy border closures that followed the arrival of the pandemic in spring 2020.

“We expect all Member States to follow this coordinated approach and the travel restrictions based on a common color code,” Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said on Monday, announcing that the Commission would send a letter to all member states to remind them of this requirement. The Commission is particularly concerned about the restrictions imposed on the German side on essential workers and the disruption caused to freight transport and supply chains.

Because since Sunday, Berlin has been filtering passages with the Czech Republic and Austria to contain the spread of variants of the coronavirus, and has suggested that it could do the same with France in the coming days, due to the health situation in the department of Moselle where a progression of the South African variant is observed, which is very contagious.

A perspective that worries Paris: “I do not want Germany to completely close the border” with France, reacted Monday the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune. “If Germany were to further restrict movement” to France, “I would like us to define together the widest possible exceptions,” he continued. “We have two major concerns: road transport (…) and frontier workers,” insisted Clément Beaune, who was to meet with the three minister-presidents of the German border regions with France.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer on Sunday judged the restrictions “unacceptable”, relating in particular to Austrians wanting to pass only in transit through Germany, and denounced “the chaos” they cause. The German government indicated on Monday that it would “continue to observe precisely the situation (health, note) to continuously assess the measures to fight the pandemic”, stressing that such controls with border countries were temporary measures and of “last resort”.

As for the Belgian ban on all non-essential travel, decreed in January and extended until April 1, it is considered problematic because it does not take into account the epidemiological situation of the region of origin or the traveler’s destination. But the room for maneuver of the European executive to sanction unilateral measures is reduced, because the recommendations are not legally binding.

As a reminder, the 27 member states jointly adopted in October recommendations proposed by the European executive, intended to coordinate restrictions on free movement. They endorsed in January updated measures to take into account new variants of the coronavirus. They aim to avoid total border closures and general bans, by recommending avoiding “non-essential” travel and taking into account the health situation in each region as established by the European Center for the Prevention and Control of Diseases. diseases (ECDC). The subject will be on the table at a meeting of European affairs ministers on February 23.


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