"Determined to tackle this crisis together"

EU leaders consult "Determined to tackle this crisis together"

The leaders of the European Union have discussed the latest steps to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The travel ban proposed by the European Commission is to be implemented swiftly. Member states also welcomed the guidelines on border management within the EU. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference following her video conference with other EU leaders

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany is to implement the agreed travel ban with immediate effect.

Foto: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

The travel ban proposed by the European Commission applies to all citizens of countries that belong neither to the EU nor to EFTA, with the exception of UK citizens. It is to apply initially for a period of 30 days. "Germany will implement it with immediate effect," announced Chancellor Angela Merkel. All other member states had undertaken to do the same, she reported.

Keeping waiting times at borders to a minimum

With a view to border management within the EU, to ensure that the Single Market works, the Chancellor reported that she had "stressed that the free movement of goods must be guaranteed". There are currently some difficulties in this area. All member states had pledged to make every effort to keep waiting times at the border to a minimum. Equally, commuters must be able to travel freely. While this is working well at the German-French border and the border between Germany and Luxembourg, the situation is more difficult elsewhere.

Ensuring free movement of goods

The leaders welcomed the decisions taken yesterday by the Euro Group, pointed out Angela Merkel, not least against the background "that we must expect extremely serious consequences for our economy". This makes the free movement of goods all the more important. The Single Market is based on production on the basis of the division of labour. "If we want to send a sign that we are working with determination to counter the economic consequences, which are absolutely unavoidable, the free movement of goods is a very important part of that in my view," said the Chancellor.

Export restrictions for medical goods

Member states also pledged to take coordinated action to repatriate citizens currently outside the EU. In response to a request by many member states, the European Commission has issued a collective invitation to tender for medical goods and equipment. Angela Merkel welcomed the proposal of the Commission to impose export restrictions on medical goods and equipment destined for non-EU states.

It became clear during the meeting, she reported, that the top priority is to protect citizens and ensure that medical care is available to them, said Angela Merkel. With a view to the economic consequences, all states confirmed that "they would do what is necessary". In spite of the fact that measures vary at national level, all member states are "determined to tackle this crisis together".