Today, the Commission recommends to Schengen Member States and Schengen Associated States to lift internal border controls by 15 June 2020 and to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU until 30 June 2020; and sets out an approach to progressively lifting the restriction afterwards.
Given that the health situation in certain third countries remains critical, the Commission does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at this stage. The restriction should be lifted for countries selected together by Member States, based on a set of principles and objective criteria, taking into account data from relevant sources such as European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and WHO.
For countries towards which the restriction remains in place, the Commission proposes to enlarge the categories of permitted travellers to include, for instance, international students. The Commission is also issuing guidance to Member States to ensure that the resumption of visa operations abroad is well coordinated with the gradual lifting of the travel restrictions.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson,said: “Following the lifting of all internal border checks inside the Union, we are proposing a clear and flexible approach towards removing restrictions on travel to the EU starting on 1 July. International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting. While we will all have to remain careful, the time has come to make concrete preparations for lifting restrictions with countries whose health situation is similar to the EU's and for resuming visa operations.”
Gradually removing restrictions on travel to the EU
Actions at the EU's external borders must be coordinated and uniform to be effective. As travellers entering the EU can move freely from one country to another, it is crucial that Member States coordinate their decisions on lifting travel restrictions. This is why Member States should agree on a common list of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as of 1 July, to be reviewed on a regular basis.
Resuming visa operations
Most Member States decided to suspend or reduce the processing of visa applications as part of pandemic-related measures. Travellers will need to be able to access visa services again and Member States should synchronise the resumption of visa operations with the lifting of travel restrictions. This is why today the Commission presents guidance for a phased and coordinated return of visa operations to normal. It also covers hygiene measures and precautions for receiving visa applicants.
Finally, if a Member State requires health checks, these should take place at the time of travel or shortly before, rather than when applying for a visa; and should apply to all travellers from a given location irrespective of their nationality or visa status.