The European Commission has reprimanded six member states, including Germany and Hungary, for too strict travel restrictions, said the spokesman for the European Commission for the rule of law, Christian Wigand. Border restrictions were introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
– The Commission has sent letters to six EU countries – Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Sweden – expressing its concern. These countries have stricter restrictions on arrivals or departures from their territory than agreed, Wigand said at a press conference in Brussels.
– We emphasize in these letters that restrictions on free movement must not be discriminatory and must be proportional (to the situation – ed.). We call on the Member States to better align their measures with the recommendations that have been jointly agreed, the spokesman added.
He expressed the hope that the problem would be resolved without the need for legal action by the Commission and underlined that the above six countries had 10 days to reply to the letters sent and to explain the restrictions.
According to Reuters, Germany introduced border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria and held talks on this subject with the French side. Due to queues of trucks at the Czech-German border, Brussels decided to react.
– We must return to a coordinated approach to restrictions to ensure the free movement of people of goods – said Didier Reynders, EU Justice Commissioner.
Entry to Sweden from Denmark, Norway and Great Britain is prohibited until March 31. All decisions on the interpretation of the exceptions are made at border control by the Swedish Border Police.
From 1 September 2020, temporary controls at the Hungarian border have been reintroduced and restrictions on unofficial (private) travel have been introduced.
Foreigners with permanent residence and their family members as well as persons with documents entitling to stay for more than 90 days, issued by the Hungarian Migration Office, are treated on the same basis as Hungarian citizens. Documents confirming the above must be presented upon entry. Other foreigners cannot enter Hungary in passenger traffic for the purpose of stay.
In Finland, there are current additional entry restrictions from Schengen area countries, including Poland. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, travel destination restrictions still apply to travel from Poland to Finland.
Travelers must provide the relevant justification for the journey at border checks. It can be, for example, return to home in Finland, employment, study / studies or important personal or family reasons (e.g. wedding, funeral, illness). Transit to another EU / Schengen country is allowed (however, it must be properly documented and justified). Entry for tourism, recreation or visiting friends is still not allowed.
As explained by Reuters, as many as nine countries introduced border controls to better protect themselves against the mutations of the coronavirus spreading across Europe. Nevertheless, the EC sent letters only to six countries.
According to the AFP agency, on Thursday and Friday the leaders of the European Union are to talk about the situation related to the coronavirus in the Community during a videoconference.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Claus Fisker