General

Six EU countries warned over border restrictions

The European Commission said Tuesday it

has formally warned six EU countries that their virus-related border curbs

could undermine free movement within the bloc.

Letters sent on Monday to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and

Sweden, highlight a risk of “fragmentation and disruptions to free movement

and to supply chains,” commission spokesman Christian Wigand told

journalists.

The EU executive is worried the measures go beyond recommendations adopted

four months ago seeking a “proportional” balance between slowing the spread

of the coronavirus and maintaining movement.

It has given the countries until late next week to respond, failing which

it could, theoretically, start proceedings for breach of EU laws.

Germany, however, strongly rejected the idea that its strict restrictions

on traffic from Austria’s Tyrol region and from the Czech Republic and

Slovakia ran counter to EU rules.

“I reject the accusation that we have not complied with EU law,” German

European Affairs Minister Michael Roth said in Brussels, where he was

attending a meeting of EU counterparts.

He said Germany had made the “difficult” decision because of the fear of

highly contagious coronavirus variants and because of Germany’s position as

“a transit country in the middle of the European Union”.

The commission’s letter to Germany, obtained by AFP, said Germany was not

applying all the ban exemptions set out by the EU recommendations, and noted

that the spread of variants in the Czech Republic and Slovakia was no worse

than in some other EU countries.

It also took exception to German authorities requiring Covid-19 test

results to be issued in English, German, French or Italian, saying results in

Czech or Slovak should also be accepted.

The EU’s aim, the letter said, is “the preservation of the functioning of

the Single Market during a volatile economic period, as well as the

protection of family life during a time of significantly reduced social

contacts outside the core family.”

Wigand, the commission spokesman, said: “We trust that we will find

solutions with member states concerned without having to revert to legal

steps, which can be lengthy”.

EU leaders are to discuss the virus situation in the bloc on Thursday and

Friday, during a videolink summit.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)