Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola is fronting a proposal by her EU political party, the European People’s Party, which would see EU member states, including Malta, reopen their internal borders for internal tourism in time for summer.
“We must do what we can to save Europe’s summer,” Metsola, the EPP’s spokesperson on Home Affairs, and MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, the EPP’s spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, said in a joint statement.
As per the EPP’s proposal, the EU’s internal Schengen borders will reopen in time for summer while non-Schengen EU countries will reopen for EU tourists with normal border control measures that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The closure of borders was necessary at the start of the epidemic to stop cross-border contagion,” Metsola said. “As member states enter into exit strategies, with comprehensive internal measures in place, it is necessary to examine whether closed borders across our Schengen Zone is still required.”
“There are options that allow for health checks and contagion control measures without sealing off our internal borders entirely.”
“Improving health protocols and standards can help slow or stop the virus, not closing borders indefinitely. A well-functioning single European market needs to be part of our response to the crisis.”
Metsola said she was concerned at reports EU member states could reopen their borders to only a select number of fellow member states.
“I am not convinced that this is a method that would work or that could be enforced,” she said. “What we need is a coordinated, workable, balanced European approach that is based on science and facts – not just easy headlines.”
Marinescu urged the European Commission to release a targeted action plan to kickstart the EU’s tourism industry.
“The future of tourism businesses, hotels, airlines, travel agencies, restaurants, often family-owned, depends on support from the EU,” he said. “Ensuring immediate financial support and a coordinated exit strategy will not only help tourism regions, but also rebuild the trust and confidence of all citizens who would like to go on summer holiday.”
The EU Commission is expected to make an announcement on this issue tomorrow.