Since March this year, the spread of
Covid-19 in Europe has been accompanied by restrictions on the freedom of
travel and movement to an unprecedented extent for EU citizens. Specifically,
the individual travel warnings and restrictions issued by the EU Member States
since the end of the first major lockdown in June have meant increasing
uncertainty and are now having an impact far beyond the tourism industry.
Effects to date
In particular, too frequent and last-minute
changes to the rules on test strategy, quarantine requirements and travel
warnings would create uncertainty and increase economic risk on the part of employers.
For employees, social security
uncertainties arise above all, e.g. with regard to the effects of private and
professional travel behaviour or in the case of employment relationships across
Cross-border employees or persons with
employment relationships in an international field of activity, for whom
cross-border mobility is elementary for the performance of their work are
particularly affected. For example, these include services in the construction
industry or skilled workers for specialised machinery. Therefore, certain
groups of persons, particularly health care professionals have already been
granted exemptions as they have an important function in maintaining the health
care system during the current pandemic.
Against the background of partly
inconsistent regulations of Member States, the call for a coordinated approach
within the EU is becoming more urgent.
Strengthened EU coordination
Therefore, the Commission presented a proposal on 4 September to improve the clarity and
predictability of measures affecting the free movement of persons within the
European Union. This follows the recommendation by the EU Council and aims to ensure
that Member States' travel restrictions are better coordinated and communicated
at EU level.
The proposal contains the following key
- establishing common criteria (e.g. the number of newly reported
COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons within 14 days) and a uniform
notification to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
- uniform mapping of regions in the European Economic Area by
means of a colour code: green (low risk), orange (warning), red (high
risk) or grey (insufficient data or low testing)
- a common concept for dealing with travellers from at-risk
- informing the public quickly and clearly.
The Commission emphasises that the
protection of public health is always the first priority; however, further disruptions
to weakened economies must be prevented. The proposal contains clear and
non-discriminatory criteria, which do not interfere with the health competences
of the Member States and are easy to apply. The public will be informed about
"Re-open EU" platform
The "Re-open EU" platform has been in operation since
15 June when the borders within the Schengen area were reopened. As a central
point of contact, the platform is used to provide up-to-date information from
the Commission and the Member States.