COVID-19 Special Coverage
EU closes external borders amid COVID-19
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EU closes external borders amid COVID-19

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced on Tuesday that all member states of the Schengen Area had endorsed guidelines that provide for temporary, coordinated action to close the zone’s external border for a period of 30 days. The European Commission also identified four priorities for each EU member country: limit the spread of the virus, provide medical equipment, promote research, and tackle socio-economic consequences.

The border strengthening measures include a temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the area for thirty days and subjects any person who crosses an external border into the Schengen area to systematic checks. Long-term residents, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, and healthcare workers are some of the individuals exempted from the travel ban.

Regarding access to medical equipment, the European Council supported the Commission’s efforts to ensure the supply chain remains intact. This includes running “joint public procurements” that would provide equipment between EU countries. The leaders also encouraged EU countries to support European countries developing potential vaccines for the virus. Lastly, the group insisted that Eurogroup monitor the economic landscape and “adapt . . . a coordinated policy response to the response to the rapidly evolving situation.”

The group also discussed using additional EU funds in a joint effort to bring citizens home safely from non-EU countries.

Members states of the EU and Schengen Area will implement these policies individually. The European Council will hold another videoconference next week to further discuss combatting COVID-19.