EU interior ministers are more or less in agreement with regard to reopening the EU’s internal borders, however, they do not plan on opening their borders to third countries without limitations.
During a videoconference of European Union Interior Ministers on Friday EU interior ministers addressed the issue of possibly reopen borders within the EU and the freedom of movement. The majority of the ministers announced plans to open their country's borders to other member states on June 15th.
The European Commission reiterated that discrimination against any citizen of the EU must be avoided when opening the EU's internal borders, regardless of which country they are arriving from and which country they will be staying in. The commission added however, that the final decision regarding reopening borders will be left to individual member states.
After the videoconference the State Secretary at the Croatian Interior Ministry, Terezija Gras, announced that the ministers has basically agreed that they will continue to work towards the common goal of rescinding internal border controls. She added that the majority of member states will do so on June 15th, while the others will hopefully do so by the end of the month, depending on the development of the epidemiological situation in various member states.
It was also proposed that entry into the EU from third countries be restricted until the end of the month, so as to give the union time to prepare for the opening of borders to non-member states. Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson added that she is confident that the EU's Schengen border area and the freedom of movement of EU citizens will be fully functional no later than the end of June.
Commenting on the videoconference Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that it is important to recognize that there are differences from country to country, and called on the European Commission come out with some kind of text containing recommendations on how to approach the issue of opening borders to third non-member states.
The minister also noted that Croatia has already opened its borders to ten EU member states, including Austria, but that the government in Vienna has not yet officially approved travel to Croatia, something it is expected to do next week: “At the ministerial level there exists the political will within EU member states to reopen the EU's internal borders, meaning the borders between member states within Schengen but also the EU as a whole, as of June 15th. Currently, after the Slovenians, Austrian as second in terms of visits to Croatia. So, in that sense Croatia is open, the Austrians know this and that's why they are coming to Croatia,” Božinović concluded.
Earlier in the week European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee has called on the European Council to adopt a decision on integrating Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Border Area. The parliament will debate the proposal at its plenary session later this month.
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