New Coordinated Plan For Intra-EU/EEA Travel

As Europe faces the second wave of Covid-19 infections, the intra-bloc travel restrictions eased for the Summer have sprung up again, making travel within the countries difficult.

Today, EU ministers reached an agreement with a coordinated plan that brings more clarity and predictability to intra-bloc travel designating regions as green, orange, or red.

You can access the Reopen EU website here.

Green, Orange & Red

There should not be limitations from travelers from the green regions (note that this is based on REGIONS and not COUNTRIES because the epidemiological situation can vary a lot).

Countries can have procedures such as testing or quarantine, for those coming from orange and red. The same procedures must be in place for citizens from other EU countries as for nationals.

ECDC Map

The ECDC hasn’t yet updated its map to reflect the new green, orange, and red regions

Current Covid-19 status within EU/EEA

Here’s the video released by the Commission’s president:

“Our right to move freely across the EU has been severely impacted by the pandemic. On top of this, citizens have been faced with so many different rules and procedures, unclear information about areas of high and low risk, and a lack of clarity about what to do when travelling. A month ago, the Commission put forward a proposal on how to address these challenges and support the millions of EU citizens who travel in the EU every day. Today, Member States have reached an agreement on how to put this into practice.

We welcome this agreement to bring more order to a currently confusing situation. The coming together of Member States sends a strong signal to citizens and is a clear example of the EU acting where it absolutely should. We have learned our lessons: we will not surmount the crisis by unilaterally closing borders, but by working together.

A common map with common colour codes based on common criteria, produced by the European Centre for Disease Control, is the first important outcome. We now call on Member States to ensure that the necessary data is provided so that the map can be updated on a weekly basis with accurate information on the epidemiological situation in the EU and its regions.

Secondly, while Member States can still decide what restrictive measures they apply such as quarantine or tests, we call on Member States to ensure that citizens are given clear and timely information about what they must do, and which restrictions are in force, as per the agreement today. Member States also agreed on the mutual recognition of tests, and we will continue to work with them on better coordination of testing and quarantine requirements.

For the millions of citizens with an essential reason to travel, be it for important family reasons, for their livelihoods, or to ensure that we receive the goods we need, today’s agreement will also be a welcome improvement to a currently precarious situation. No quarantine measures should be applied in these cases.

Our strength as a Union is when we act as one, to protect our common rights and freedoms and the health of our citizens. Today’s agreement is a good example of this.”

Quarantine requirements don’t apply when:

If you have an essential reason to travel, you will not be required to undergo quarantine. This is because the EU recognises that while we must protect ourselves from the spread of the virus, there are important reasons for which EU citizens need to use their right to free movement in an unrestricted way.

The Member States have agreed that the following categories of travellers will be exempt from the requirement to undergo quarantine measures when fulfilling their essential function or need:

  • workers or self-employed people exercising critical occupations including health care workers, frontier and posted workers as well as seasonal workers as referred to in the Commission Guidelines;
  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis;
  • people travelling for imperative family or business reasons;
  • diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
  • passengers in transit;
  • seafarers;
  • journalists, when performing their duties.

Fact Sheet:

Here are the frequently asked questions:

Download (PDF, 52KB)

Conclusion

It is quite telling that there isn’t a single country within the bloc that would have less than 25 infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days. I am sure that there are, however, regions within the countries that do.

EU ministers couldn’t develop clear procedures on dealing with travelers coming from orange and red regions that would have made it easier for residents within EU/EEA. You need to check the requirements for every country, and they can vary between destination regions too.

Some countries require passenger locator forms filled at minimum 24 hours before (how many have been denied boarding to Greece), while UK and Spain allow you to fill them up at the arrival airport.

I don’t see the pandemic being over before sometime in the Summer of 2021, and the likelihood is moderate/high that we have a working vaccine by then.