The European Council has agreed to a temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU for a period of 30 days, based on the approach proposed by the European Commission, Council President Charles Michel said on the evening of March 17.
“We endorsed the guidelines proposed by the Commission on border management. We need to ensure passage of medicines, food and goods and our citizens must be able to travel to their home countries. Adequate solutions for cross-border workers will be found,” he said after the meeting of the European Council, which was held by teleconference.
Michel said that EU leaders had committed to co-ordinate among their embassies and EU delegations in non-EU countries regarding the repatriation of EU citizens.
The EU foreign policy chief and the European External action service will support in this regard, the statement said.
“We will jointly arrange repatriation of EU citizens, where necessary and possible, and make use of the Union’s Civil protection mechanism. Additional EU funding for such joint operations will be mobilised.”
The statement said that the European Council meeting scheduled for March 26 and 27 was being postponed.
Deutsche Welle reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that, in a teleconference with other EU leaders, it had been agreed that the bloc-wide ban should be enacted on travel from outside the EU. The chancellor said there would be relatively few exceptions but that European Free Trade Area countries, as well as the United Kingdom, would not be included.
The ban is due to remain in place for a period of 30 days. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen had proposed on Monday that the bloc’s Schengen passport-free zone impose the drastic and unprecedented measure, and that fellow EU states should follow suit.
It does not affect Europeans returning home and cross-border professionals. Britain is exempted from the travel ban because it is currently in a transition period following its exit from the EU.