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EU Harmonizes Restriction Rules On Free Movement

Publication: ZRVP

The European Commission has proposed a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring equality and more predictable measures regarding free movement in the European Union.

While each Member State has adopted own measures that restrict free movement, such as cross-border restrictions or specific conditions to enter into/from another country or to undergo quarantine, countries should also pay close attention to the consequences that stem from such measures, especially to those related to the freedom of movement and the internal market.

In order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and to secure at the same time the right of EU citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union, the European Commission recommends a coordinated approach that comes as a guarantee for EU citizens.

A few key points should be taken into account when restrictions are applied, which are intended to fix limits that ensure compliance with general principles of EU law and have strict applicability only in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the following shall be considered, including:

General principles of EU Law should always be considered when establishing restrictions, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination. To this extent, there should be no discrimination between Member States in applying restrictive rules and their degree of generosity and such rules must never lie upon persons’ nationality, but on the last location of the person. However, all measures shall be lifted as soon as the epidemiological situation allows it.

Moreover, the European Commission suggested that all Member States should also take into consideration common criteria when establishing a set of new restrictive rules, such as the number of newly notified cases in an area and the testing rate for such area. Precisely for ensuring a comprehensive view on how the pandemic evolves in each EU area, Member States should provide the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and regional authorities with such data.

Also, a risk map should be drawn up on a weekly basis by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, as a useful tool for taking restrictive measures by the Member States. The map would be marked depending on the number of new cases registered within a 14-day period.

A predictable and transparent approach amongst all European Countries must be ensured, this is why the set of recommendations are a useful tool in the attempt to safeguard the health of citizens while maintaining free movement and sustaining the well-functioning of the European internal market.

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