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Ministers from the 27 member states have adopted a "traffic light" system as a guide on whether to require testing or quarantine for non-essential EU travelers, eventually restoring free movement when conditions allow.
European Union ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday reached an agreement on common criteria to coordinate coronavirus travel rules to provide clarity and predictability on measures that restrict movement due to the pandemic.
The agreement requires EU countries to provide "clear and timely information about what they must do, and which restrictions are in force," including any accompanying requirements such as COVID-19 negative tests or passenger locator forms.
EU countries should publish the necessary information as early as possible, at least 24 hours before new measures come into effect. The agreement acknowledges that some flexibility is required for emergencies.
"We welcome this agreement to bring more order to a currently confusing situation," the European Commission said in a statement.
The agreement is non-binding — individual EU countries are free to determine their own measures but are advised to be consistent.
Countries also agreed on the mutual recognition of coronavirus tests.
Ministers from the 27 countries also created a common color-coded mapping system based on common criteria from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) to define risk areasin the bloc.
Member states are required to supply data to the ECDC about new cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, plus numbers of tests and percentage of positive tests in the past week. The agency will then update the color-coded map.
With cases on the rise across the bloc, only a few areas would currently qualify for the lowest-risk "green" band permitting unrestricted travel. They include most of eastern Germany, some areas of Bulgaria, Greece and parts of the Nordic and Baltic countries, and one zone in Italy.
The agreement states that EU citizens with an essential reason to travel, such as for family reasons or to secure their livelihoods or obtain necessary goods, no quarantine measures will be applied in these cases.
"We will continue to work on better coordination of testing and quarantine requirements," the statement read.
All information will be made available on the ‘Re-open EU' web platform.
mvb/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)