EU external borders to remain shut for another month

Travel into the European Union will be restricted until at least mid-June.

    Shutting the European Union's external borders was a bid to encourage member nations to keep internal borders open, but many nations put restrictions in place, leading to jams and delays, like this one near the German-Polish border in Frankfurt/Oder [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]
    Shutting the European Union's external borders was a bid to encourage member nations to keep internal borders open, but many nations put restrictions in place, leading to jams and delays, like this one near the German-Polish border in Frankfurt/Oder [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

    Restrictions on travel into the European Union will be kept in place until at least mid-June, the bloc announced on Friday.

    While borders between EU nations may soon begin to reopen in some form or another, the European Commission, the bloc's executive branch, has backed keeping curbs on travel to the continent in place for another 30 days as part of extraordinary measures that limit the spread of coronavirus but that are also hurting trade and tourism.

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    The bloc decided in mid-March to close its external borders for any non-essential travel in a largely failed bid to prevent the 27 member states from closing frontiers inside Europe's control-free travel zone.

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    The EU's Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said this week Europe would have to "go back to the future" of open borders once the pandemic is under control.

    But for the time being, at least 17 of the Schengen zone's 26 countries have various travel restrictions in place. The Schengen zone brings together most EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland and others.

    "Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel," Johansson said in a statement on Friday.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency