EU executive surprised by Belgium's travel ban extension
Belgium announced on Friday the extension of its travel restriction measure, originally to be lifted on April 1, for another 17 days until April 18. The country, along with some other EU members, has forbidden its residents to travel abroad except for "imperative reasons" as a COVID-19 containment measure.
The European Commission deemed the measure contrary to EU law, which guarantees free movement for its residents and citizens within the Schengen area.
The EU executive sent letters to a number of countries implementing travel bans a fortnight ago, asking them to respect the "principle of proportionality" and to replace the travel ban with "more targeted measures," said European Commission spokesperson for justice, equality and rule of law Christian Wigand.
As of Monday, the commission has received replies from Germany, Finland and Belgium. However, the answer from the Belgian authorities did not mention the new extension.
The commission will analyze the replies received from the relevant member states and will "quickly examine all options on the table," said Wigand.
"Free movement is a fundamental freedom. We will continue to act to ensure that the recommendations adopted by the EU Council are respected and to avoid travel bans," tweeted EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders on Monday. ■