Commission proposes extending EU travel ban until June 15

Bloc not yet ready to open up to the rest of the world.

Commission proposes extending EU travel ban until June 15

The European Commission on Friday asked Schengen countries to extend a restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for another 30 days, until June 15.

Although several countries are slowly starting to ease restrictions, the situation remains “fragile” across the globe and the bloc must make sure to prevent the coronavirus spreading through travel to the EU, the Commission argued. It’s prioritizing opening borders between EU countries before opening up the bloc to the rest of the world.

In a roadmap for the easing of coronavirus restrictions it proposed in April, the Commission said that border checks should be lifted in a phased manner, with easing internal border restrictions taking precedence over opening external borders.

“Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in a statement today.

“Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel,” she said.

The Commission first proposed the travel ban in March in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s been extended once since.

Except for Ireland, all EU countries and non-EU Schengen countries have implemented travel restrictions.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Eurozone backs 10-year credit lines for coronavirus costs

Countries have until end-2022 to obtain funds with the Commission watching how they're spent.

Eurozone backs 10-year credit lines for coronavirus costs

Eurozone governments have until the end of 2022 to open credit lines from a shared bailout fund to pay health costs stemming from the coronavirus, finance ministers agreed Friday.

Countries tapping the European Stability Mechanism would then have 10 years to pay back the debt, under the preliminary agreement struck by the Eurogroup ministers in a short videoconference. Their leaders have asked for the credit lines to be ready by June 1.

Once ministers complete legal formalities, the ESM rescue fund — created during the government-debt crisis last decade — could offer as much as 2 percent of a country’s annual economic output. The European Commission would monitor how the money is spent.

“There are no other strings attached to the use of the facility,” Eurogroup President Mário Centeno said after the meeting.

Roberto Gualtieri, the Italian finance minister, hailed the agreement not to impose conditions such as economic and labor reforms, mandated in the fund’s original rules for government rescues. The prospect of such terms, along with opposition to shared bonds, had sparked outrage from Italy while it was bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

The ministers who sit on the ESM board could decide later to shorten or extend the end-2022 deadline to draw on the fund.

The credit lines are part of a three-pronged, €540 billion economic package that aims to protect governments, workers and companies from financial ruin because of the pandemic.

Treasury officials earlier this week tentatively agreed on a €100 billion jobless reinsurance plan that would compensate employees for lost income if their companies reduce working hours. This jobless initiative also ends December 31, 2022.

The European Investment Bank, meanwhile, is finalizing a €200 billion guarantee fund that can issue loans to cash-strapped companies.

Source : Politico EU More   

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