Non-essential travel ‘strongly discouraged’: EU chief

Published January 22, 2021, 8:57 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

EU leaders agreed Thursday to consider restricting non-essential trips across the bloc’s internal borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Brussels’ top officials said.

“All non essential travel should be strongly discouraged both within the country and of course across borders,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen
(Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Freight transport should continue but EU Council chief Charles Michel said, “in terms of non-essential movements restrictions should be possible to consider”.

Speaking after a video summit of all 27 EU leaders, both officials stressed that the operation of the single market and trips by essential cross-border workers must be protected.

But, asked why member states did not simply ban leisure travel, Michel confirmed “it will probably be necessary to take additional restrictive measures in order to limit non-essential travel.”

“In the next hours and days, we will work again in order to coordinate, in order to cooperate based on common sense, based on the idea that it’s important to limit the spread of the virus,” he said.

Under EU rules border security and health policy are matters for member states.

While some capitals have called for tighter travel controls, Brussels wants to play a coordinating role.