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Brussels warns six EU countries against travel restrictions

Ιn a letter sent to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden, the European Commission has urged the countries to respect the travel restrictions recommendations of the European Council and to align with the Union’s principles in regard to freedom of movement.

“The commission wants to recall to the European member states that it is a necessity to go back to a coordinated approach on all the measures taken in relation to the free movement of people and goods,” the bloc’s justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter.

Despite recommendations by the Commission, the six EU countries have taken unilateral measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus. In January, Belgium imposed a non-essential travel ban that has been extended to April 1, while earlier this month, Germany placed entry restrictions at its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol. Hungary, for its part, has kept its borders closed to almost all foreigners since summer. Finland has imposed a non-essential travel ban until February 25, while Sweden has blocked entry for those coming from the UK, Denmark and Norway. Denmark has also placed restrictions at its borders since the beginning of the pandemic.

The countries have ten days to provide the EU Executive with explanations about their ban on non-essential travel.

Reynders argued that the measures have gone “too far”, citing that less restrictive measures, such as discouraging travel could also work instead of banning movement from one state to another. His comments came ahead of a General Affairs Council (GAC) on Tuesday morning, which gathered the bloc’s EU affairs ministers.

“The EU Council has agreed on a coordinated approach on free movement to ensure proportionate measures and preserve essential travel,” the Justice Commissioner wrote in another post.

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