© Reuters. File: The German-Czech border crossing to Bretenau closed due to coronavirus precautions.
Written by Gabriela Bazinska, Michael Rose and Sabine Siebold
BERLIN / BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Tuesday that travel and border restrictions set up by six European Union countries to combat the emerging coronavirus have been very tight, as it seeks a coordinated approach to managing the movement of goods and people. Inside the block.
The European Commission said it had given Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden ten days to justify the restrictions that Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said had “crossed the line”.
After Germany imposed checks on its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria, it was in talks with France to avoid similar measures in the Moselle region, which stretches across the Franco-German border.
The French part of the region, which also extends to Luxembourg, has seen a mutation in one of the highly transmissible types of Coronavirus.
With long lines of trucks forming on the Czech-German border this month, European ministers in the European Union on Tuesday discussed health, border and travel issues via video link.
Reynders said that the 27 countries need to “return to a coordinated approach to all actions taken in relations with the free movement of people and goods.”
A European Commission spokesman said the bloc risks “fragmentation and disruption to freedom of movement and supply chains – something we have seen again in recent weeks.”
In a patchy response to the threatening spread of infectious coronavirus mutations, nine European Union countries have reimposed border controls in the bloc’s freedom of travel zone.
However, UNHCR is focusing on the six with additional restrictions on movement including a complete ban on non-essential travel in and out of the country in the case of Belgium.
Michael Roth, Minister for Europe in Germany, defended Berlin’s actions. “It is clear that these measures put a tremendous pressure on the border areas … but protecting our citizens is very important,” he said before talks with his European Union counterparts.
His French counterpart, Clement Boone, told Reuters that Berlin and Paris had given 48 hours to coordinate health measures such as increasing testing in the Moselle region to try to keep that part of the border open to workers.
French President Emmanuel Macron has consistently called for the internal borders of the European Union to remain open, and clashed with Germany last year after Berlin closed the borders during the first wave of the pandemic.
Sources in Berlin said Germany is now aiming to avoid the sorts of strict border measures that were in place in 2020.
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