The Foreign Ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia have met by videoconference today, May 18, 2020, to discuss a coordinated, targeted approach to restore the European value of freedom of movement and movement within the EU.
Freedom of movement and movement within Europe is a fundamental part of the European project. Our goal is that all citizens can move freely again, whether for professional, educational or simply personal reasons, in accordance with the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.
Against the background of the current coronavirus pandemic, Europe needs to guarantee much more: the freedom to move safely on EU territory.
Therefore, we celebrate the guidelines published by the European Commission on May 13, 2020 in its Communications.
They are an important starting point for talks between European partners, with a view to agreeing on criteria and deadlines for the next steps.
In this context, we agree on the following principles:
– We believe that a gradual, coordinated and agreed approach between the EU Member States is the best way to achieve the gradual normalization of cross-border movements.
– It will be essential to study how to allow displacement and at the same time prevent the risk of an increase in infections from spiraling out of control.
– It will be crucial to ensure that our citizens can not only travel freely in Europe, but that they can also return to their country of origin safely. Therefore, we must closely coordinate the conditions for lifting the confinement and quarantine rules, as well as the restoration of transport services. In this context, it will also be important to work on a common interpretation of health regulations and procedures.
– We believe that it is possible to gradually restore free cross-border movement, provided that current positive trends continue to lead to comparable epidemiological situations in countries of origin and destination. The reopening of border crossings, especially with regard to the situation of cross-border workers, deserves special attention.
We urge tourism companies and related private agents to take advantage of the coming weeks to take appropriate preventive measures to protect travelers once freedom of movement and movement is restored. We believe that it is a fundamental element to regain the confidence of citizens in the security of travel.
Likewise, we invite our citizens to continue taking good note of the health information that the competent national and European authorities make available to them.
Although, at this time, the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic still differs from one country to another, our common objective is to coordinate as closely as possible the approaches of the European partners, with the aim of reestablishing in the near future the freedom of movement and security on the move.