Uniform travel restrictions across EU could be introduced next week
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Uniform travel restrictions across EU could be introduced next week

Credit: Belga

The European Commission is aiming to introduce uniform colour codes for all travel zones in EU countries next week, according to Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

Currently, it is still up to the member States to decide what colour they assign certain travel zones in other countries, leading to confusion for travellers because of constantly changing travel restrictions and quarantine rules.

“We need to move towards coordination, but that is difficult,” said European Commissioner Didier Reynders on VRT radio on Thursday morning.

“At the beginning of September, we sent a recommendation to the countries to find an agreement. They should all use the same criteria to define the zones, and also use the same map,” he said. “A region that is coloured red should be red for everyone, not for Belgium but not other countries, for example.”

Reynders aims to have this uniform map of colour codes by next week Tuesday, 22 September, but fears that it will take longer. There has been a considerable effort by the German Presidency to reach an agreement, according to him, but “the road is still long.”

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“Every day, there is a change in one country or another, who all have a different vision for the colour codes,” Reynders said, adding that assigning them is a national competence. “But it would be useful to have the same map for everyone, and a new decision once a week.”

On Tuesday, many European airlines also pushed for uniform travel restrictions across the EU, as the confusion concerning the rules is hindering air traffic, according to them.

Travel restrictions and quarantine rules should be based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which draws up colour codes for each country or region, according to the sector.

“The Council of the EU must make this a political priority,” said Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group. “Uncoordinated national measures over the last six months have had a devastating impact on freedom of movement – a core EU principal – with significant knock-on effects for our travel and tourism sector.”

Additionally, Easyjet’s top executive said that uniform travel rules would help airlines more than state aid.

On Wednesday, Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Department published its latest weekly update of the colour codes for travel zones, colouring the cities of Amsterdam and Vienna, as well as several other areas, red. This means that non-essential travel from Belgium will no longer be allowed, and people returning from there have to be tested and quarantined.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times