Coronavirus: EU internal borders could stay shut | News | DW | 03.04.2020
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Coronavirus: EU internal borders could stay shut

As the coronavirus spreads across the EU, the head of the European Commission has said states will decide on a possible extension of border closures. Meanwhile, the Netherlands urged tourists to stay away over Easter.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday said talks among were underway over whether or not to extend border closures within the EU, to curb the spread of coronavirus.  

"We are in consultation with member states on how to proceed beyond Easter," she told Europe 1 radio.

Von der Leyen also reiterated that the next EU budget should take the form of a new "Marshall Plan" to drive Europe's recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. The German politician said she felt Europe would emerge from the coronavirus crisis in a stronger state.

Last week, von der Leyen said some member states had sidelined their solidarity with the bloc by shutting borders, hoarding medical supplies and waving through major spending plans regardless of EU rules.

Read more: Follow the latest developments with our rolling coverage

Tighter controls in Germany

German news magazine Der Spiegel on Friday reported that the cabinet in Berlin would discuss new proposals on Monday about entry through land borders. According to the report, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer wants to tighten border controls with Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and the Netherlands

New rules would allow only individuals with good reasons, such as cross-border workers, to enter the country. 

Similar restrictions are already in place for arrivals from Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark. According to the report, the new rules would also oblige air passengers arriving in Germany to go into quarantine.

Germans urged to stay away from Netherlands

She told a sparsely attended meeting of the European Parliament that: "When Europe really needed an 'all for one' spirit,' too many initially gave an 'only for me' response."

The comments came as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appealed to German and Belgian tourists to not travel to the country over the Easter weekend.

Read more: Germany eases border rules to allow in harvest workers

While cross-border travel to and from the Netherlands has already slowed to a trickle amid frontier closures across European nations, Rutte said the Dutch Foreign Ministry would spread a keep-away message over social media.

The Easter period would typically see German and Belgian tourists flock to Dutch campsites and vacation rentals. Many of these have already been closed due to coronavirus, though the Dutch government has avoided a full lockdown until now.

rc/rt (Reuters, dpa)

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