12 June, 2020
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New Reckoning by the EU Commission with the Lifting of Travel Restrictions

In case you are planning a trip to any of the EU countries, we have news for you.

On June 11, 2020, European Commission (“Commission”) published a Communication on the third assessment of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU strongly encouraging the remaining Member States (those which have not lifted the ban yet) to lift the internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU by June 15, 2020.  This is the third sequel of the Commission’s prolongation of travel restrictions into the EU+ area for travelers coming from third countries, however, in view of the fact that the epidemiological situation in a number of third countries remains critical at this stage, it is not possible to have a general lifting of the travel restriction on non-essential travel to the EU+ area.  This is the second stage of the ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures’ which foresees potential relaxation of temporary restrictions at the external borders and allowing non-EU residents to resume non-essential travel to the EU.

The Commission’s recommendation is to gradually lift travel restrictions on travel into the EU until June 30, 2020, and then prepare a list of third countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted from July 1, 2020 based on common coordinated approach and under specific conditions.  The Commission also issued a Guidance to the Member States to ensure that the resumption of visa operations abroad is well coordinated with the gradual lifting of the travel restrictions.

 

Unique Approach to the Western Balkans

 

Regarding the current temporary ban on traveling to the EU applied to the citizens of the Western Balkans countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi voiced the Commission’s recommendation to rescind travel restrictions as of July 1, 2020, bearing in mind that the epidemiological situation in the Western Balkans is similar or even better than that in the EU.

 

Needless to say, the process of lifting the travel restrictions and internal border controls within the EU is firmly underway. The Commission has invited the Council to act on creating and adopting a concrete coordinated approach on compiling the list of countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as from July 1, 2020. This list should apply and be updated on a regular basis by the Schengen Member States together with the Schengen Associated States.