Airports and airlines decry the uncoordinated reopening of EU borders

Photo: Mick Dodsworth

The industry representative bodies, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe and Airlines for Europe (A4E) have said EU countries must harmonise the opening of their national borders to restore efficient travel.

The two associations have issued a joint statement highlighting the current trend towards uncoordinated individual country measures. They stated that: “despite agreeing at EU Council level to a scientific-based approach and endorsing their own “white list”1 recommendation  just one week ago, EU States are adopting extremely diverging lists.” They said the smooth reopening of external EU borders is being “jeopardised by non-harmonised, uncoordinated national measures.”

This, they say, means there is “very little clarity and significant uncertainty about which citizens can travel where.” This, they say, has “effectively led to a patchwork system of travel restrictions and border controls throughout Europe which may remain in place for weeks or months to come.”

They noted that the current situation also “weakens the functioning of the Schengen area” highlighting the example that since Member States apply different rules, a Japanese tourist could choose to fly to Warsaw and then travel within the Schengen space without controls.

A4E and ACI EUROPE are urging EU and Schengen States to “do away with politics and follow their agreed, fact-based approach towards lifting the ban on non-essential travel to the EU and Schengen area for countries where the epidemiological situation allows.”

The two associations also want regular updates to the countries included on the White List, which would include those relating to “other non-EU/Schengen countries which fit the criteria proposed by the European Commission and approved by the EU Council.” This, they say, would “support air transport and European tourism’s recovery.”

The two organisations listed the following examples of diverging implementation of the EU Council recommendations:

–    Belgium keeping its borders closed to travellers from the 15 white-listed countries until further notice;

–    Germany reopening its borders to eight countries from the white list while requiring reciprocity from China, Japan and South Korea before lifting entry restrictions from those countries;

–    Greece barring entry to Serbian nationals (not residents), therefore not following the Council recommendation and going against the EU principle of non-discrimination;

–    Hungary announcing that it will not open its borders to non-EU countries except Serbia for the moment;

–    Ireland extending its advice to avoid all non-essential travel until July 20; a “green list” of countries which people could travel to will not be published until then;

–    Poland extending its flight ban until July 14, except for flights from the EU, Canada, Albania, Georgia, Japan, Korea, Montenegro and Ukraine – thereby not using the whole list of approved countries;

–    Spain reopening its borders on July 4 to 12 countries from the white list – however residents of Algeria, China and Morocco will only be able to travel to Spain if these countries reopen their borders to Spanish residents in a reciprocity move.

Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E, commented: “These diverging national approaches are hurting our single market and will slow down aviation and tourism’s much needed recovery.

“The situation is also creating an uneven playing field within Europe at a time when our sector is still struggling for survival.”

Olivier Jankovec, director general at ACI Europe, added: “We can’t afford to exit the situation as chaotically as we entered it. EU countries are not sticking to their own agreed plan. This is not conducive to consumer confidence and it is clearly undermining efforts to restore air connectivity”.

 

1Non-EU countries whose citizens are able to enter the EU, currently including: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay – and China, should reciprocity of measures be confirmed.