EU to tell “member countries to gradually lift internal border restrictions and restart some travel to help the ailing tourism sector.”
The European Union wants to restart its tourism sector as the spread of coronavirus recedes, a newly released policy document shows. A strategy document compiled by the European Commission, EU’s executive arm, titled “Europe needs a break” recommends gradual lifting of border restrictions between member states to promote inner-European travel, the news agency Reuters reported.
Europe’s tourism industry has been worst hit by the Wuhan coronavirus. The sector could lose millions of jobs across Europe as international tourist arrival is expected to fall by 30 percent in the wake of the outbreak, a EU Parliament report said on April 20. The pandemic has slowed Europe’s economic output, though most economists predict a rebound next year. With economies across the 27-member bloc facing a coronavirus-induced recession, many Europeans are expected to cut back on vacation time and recreational activities.
Reuters reported EU’s plan to kick start inner-European tourism and phase out coronavirus travel restrictions:
The EU executive will …. tell the bloc’s 27 member countries to gradually lift internal border restrictions and restart some travel to help the ailing tourism sector. (…)
Europe’s external borders are now bound to be shut for any non-essential travel until at least mid-June, an emergency measure to limit the spread of the virus.
“Our tourism industry is in grave trouble,” the Commission is due to say, warning that 6.4 million jobs could be lost in the sector that has reported falls in revenue ranging from 50% for hotels and restaurants to 90% for cruises and airlines.
The pandemic set the EU on a path towards its worst-ever economic downturn and bitterly tested unity between member states fighting over medical equipment, export bans on drugs, chaotic border curbs and money to salvage their single market.
Titled “Europe needs a break” the Commission’s tourism strategy will call for targeted restrictions to replace a general ban on travel and seek a gradual lifting of internal border checks where the health situation has improved.
With Europeans most likely to stay at home or travel shorter distances this summer, peripheral EU regions and islands are likely to be shunned and will take longer to bounce back.
The EU Commission’s recommendations comes as most European countries are phasing out of the shutdown. With new transmission of the disease in decline, Germany, France, and Austria have started relaxing the economic lockdown and confinement measures introduced to slow down the virus. The eastern European countries have managed to stave off a major outbreak, so far. Southern Europe, mainly Italy and Spain, have been among the worst hit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel rolled out a ‘bold’ plan on Wednesday to restore normalcy. Most schools, shops and offices were to reopen next week as part of the plan. Germany was “following a bold path” in easing the eight weeks-old lockdown, Merkel said. The French also announced a detailed plan for phasing out most of the coronavirus restrictions by May 11. “Next Monday will mark the start of a very gradual process stretching over several weeks at least, which will allow the country to emerge slowly but steadily from the lockdown,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on Thursday.
Faced with recession, the EU wants to boost inner-European tourism as Europe’s external borders remain shut for at least another month. The bloc’s external border will stay closed at least until mid-June, the European Commission decided on Friday. The EU wants to ‘prioritize’ the restoration of ‘frictionless travel’ within the bloc as the health scare subsides, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Friday. “Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it.” Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, said recently.
EU: bloc facing deepest economic recession in its history
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