Brussels, Jun 10 (efe-epa).- The European Commission will propose that European Union member states begin a “gradual and partial” reopening of their external borders from 1 July.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the plan would be submitted this week.
A number of EU nations are in the process of lifting internal borders and restoring freedom of movement within the Schengen Area.
“The lifting of temporary travel restrictions at the external borders will come as a second stage,” the Spanish politician told a press conference.
“The College … will put forward an approach for the gradual and partial lifting of these restrictions as of the 1st of July with certain third countries, taking into account a number of principles and criteria, and based on a common coordinated approach.”
Countries like Italy have already removed border restrictions for neighbouring countries while most others, including France, Germany and Belgium, are expected to follow suit on 15 June.
Spain, one of Europe’s worst-hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic, is set to lift restrictions on 1 July.
Because of that, the Iberian nation will be exempted from Austria’s renewed free travel arrangements with EU member states on 16 June.
Austria will also maintain restrictions with Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the government said Wednesday.
German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said he had convened a meeting Thursday with his counterparts from Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Croatia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Cyprus to discuss a coordinated approach to resuming international travel.
Although Spain is set to keep its border guards up until 1 July — just over a week after the state of alarm in place in the country is due to expire — the government has decided to run a pilot program allowing over 10,000 German tourists to visit the Balearic Islands this month.
Tourism accounts for roughly 12 percent of Spain’s annual GDP and the country was the second-most visited in the world last year.
The Bank of Spain said in a report this week that the coronavirus lockdown in place from mid-March could see the economy contract between 9 and 11.6 percent this year. EFE-EPA