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The future of travel in Europe: restricted now, greener later

Many EU countries temporarily reintroduced border controls due to COVID-19 and will lift them in June 

Sustainability, innovation and resilience are key words in the long run

Viviane Vaz, for Id International

(Brussels, 26 May 2020)


Due to Covid-19 pandemia, most European Union Member States forbid public events, private gatherings, closed (totally or partially) schools and introduced border or travel restrictions. Together with the EU institutions, the EU countries look forward to opening up for tourism again.

The European Commission (EC) is currently working on how to lift travel restrictions in the European Union and highlights it should occur in different phases. “As underlined in the Joint European Roadmap on lifting containment measures, internal border controls will need to start being lifted gradually and in a coordinated manner”, says the EC press release.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is pressing for the restoration of borderless free movement for people, goods and services in the Schengen area. The MEPs want stronger EU cooperation to guarantee that there is no discrimination against any EU citizen and border control remains truly exceptional and very limited in time. “If we fail to restore the integrity of Schengen, we would seriously endanger the European project,” warns Tanja Fajon (S&D, Slovenia).

Internal borders currently face some restrictions in the EU.  Photo: Rudy & Peter Skitterians

Countries outside the EU

Are you from a third country and you are eager to visit the EU? You must be patient now. The restrictions at the external borders should be relaxed only in a second stage, after EU countries have achieved the first phase goals.”Travel restrictions aim to reduce the number of travellers entering the European Union. The aim is to restrict the spread of the coronavirus and protect public health within the EU, as well as to prevent the virus from spreading from the EU to other countries,” explains the EC.

Countries in the EU+

Are you an European citizen and do you want to travel to an European country? Last 8 May 2020, the Commission recommended an extension of the temporary travel restrictions to the EU+ area by another 30 days. It means it is scheduled to expire on 15 June 2020.

🙋What is the EU+ area? It’s all Schengen Member States (also Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) plus the 4 Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).

If you have a good essencial reason to travel, do not despair. The following are exempt from the temporary travel restriction to the EU+ area:

👉 for the purposes of returning home: all EU citizens and citizens of the Schengen Associated States and their family members

👉 non-EU citizens who are long-term residents in the EU

👉 people with an essential function or need, such as diplomats, healthcare professionals, health researchers, frontier workers, seasonal workers in agriculture, transport personnel, persons in need of international protection

EU: country by country

Is there any official travel warning concerning the destination you want to visit? Before taking a travel decision, we always check with the national authorities, since travel advice is a national competence and is continuously updated.

The reintroduction of border control at the internal borders remains an exception and is allowed in the event of a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established (in this case, the Covid-19 pandemia). So, let’s have a look at the updated list.

EU border control
The map shows EU border restriction measures by country. Source: European Union

🔎 These are the countries that temporarily reintroduced border controls related to Coronavirus COVID-19 and their dates to have them lifted:

Austria (8 May – 31 May 2020) – land borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Czechia;

Belgium (19 May – 8 June 2020) – all internal borders;

Czechia (14 May – 13 June 2020) – land borders with Austria and Germany, air borders;

Denmark (12 May – 12 November 2020) all internal borders;

Estonia (18 May – 16 June 2020) – internal air and sea borders;

Finland (19 March – 14 June 2020) – all internal borders;

France (1 May – 31 October 2020)all internal borders;

Germany (16 May – 15 June 2020) – land and air borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Italy and Spain, sea border with Denmark;

Hungary (12 May – 11 November 2020) – all internal land and air borders;

Iceland (24 April – 3 June 2020) – all internal borders;

Lithuania (14 May – 31 May 2020) – all internal borders;

Norway (15 May – 13 August 2020) – all internal borders

Portugal (15 May – 15 June 2020) – land border with Spain;

Poland (14 March – 12 June 2020) – land borders with Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Lithuania, sea borders, air borders;

Slovakia (8 April – 27 May 2020) – all internal borders.

Spain (10 May – 7 June 2020) – all internal borders;

Switzerland (14 May – 8 June 2020) – all internal air and land borders except from borders with Liechtenstein;

🌱 To look forward🌱

The European Commission promises to learn from the crisis and anticipate new trends and consumer patterns related to it. It says the future of tourism in the EU should be “more resilient and sustainable” and contribute to the European Green Deal and to establish stronger communities. “Our shared ambition should be to maintain Europe as the world’s leading tourist destination in terms of value, quality, sustainability and innovation”, says the EC. “This vision should guide the use of financial resources and investment at European, national, regional and local levels,” details the EC.