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European Council recommendation – free movement & COVID-19

On 4 September, ahead of the next European Council meeting at the end of September, the Commission has proposed a number of recommendations to facilitate a well-coordinated, predictable and transparent approach in reducing the amount of restrictions on freedom of movement that can safe guard the health of citizens whilst ensuring unrestricted cross-border economic activity.

The EC proposal aims for closer collaboration and seeks commonality in four areas:

  1. Common criteria and thresholds for member states when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions.
  2. Mapping of common criteria using an agreed colour code.
  3. A common framework for measures applied to travellers from high-risk areas.
  4. Clear and timely information to the public about any restrictions.

To support the negotiations expected during the meeting, the Commission asked ERA members to provide their views with regard to Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) and subsequent denied boarding requirement by some states if PLFs has not been completed as well as gauging members’ support for a harmonised  approach across all member states. ERA cannot support the denied boarding requirements moving forward, and whilst airlines can remind passengers at various points (booking, check-in, departure gate and so on), it should not be the responsibility of the carrier to monitor compliance. Understandably, a harmonised approach was supported, although emphasis was made on ensuring it did not burden the airlines with additional costs and resources to implement.

ERA was also asked for their views with regards to departure / arrival airport testing to avoid border closures and quarantine. Whilst members did highlight some of the challenges associated with harmonisation in this area, they are not insurmountable, and the use of testing instead of border constraints was fully supported with pre-departure testing generally being preferred over arrival testing.

Thanks to those of you who took the time to provide your comments at short notice, it was very much welcomed by the Commission.

ERA will continue to follow developments closely and report back to membership following the Council meeting later this month.

The full proposal from the Commission can be found here. If you have any questions or further comments on this proposal, please contact nick.rhodes@eraa.org.