Belgium justifies non-essential travel ban in letter to Commission
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Belgium justifies non-essential travel ban in letter to Commission

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s current ban on non-essential travel is proportionate and will remain in force until 1 April, the federal government wrote in a letter to the European Commission on Thursday.

The letter was a response to criticism from the Commission, which gave Belgium ten days to justify its travel ban, as it stated that “no reason” was given for the extension, and less restrictive measures were also available to protect public health.

The ban is not expected to be extended beyond 1 April, but the Consultative Committee will formally decide on that tomorrow, it was confirmed to The Brussels Times.

According to European recommendations, non-essential travel should not be all-out banned, but only discouraged, as all Member States must allow as much free movement as possible within the EU.

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According to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the fact that Belgium is going beyond the recommendation and implemented a ban after all, is “more justified than ever” to combat the new variants of the coronavirus, reports VRT.

Last week, De Croo already said that the ban is part of a broader policy, and will prove its worth until enough people are vaccinated, at a European summit last week.

In the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs on Monday, he already stated that he wanted a new cooperation agreement with the different regions to achieve “greater enforceability” of the testing and quarantine measures, so the non-essential travel ban can be phased out after 1 April.

In the run-up to Friday’s Consultative Committee, the country’s different governments already agreed on the details, De Croo announced in a press release on Wednesday, but formal approval is expected to follow tomorrow.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times