Europe's borders reopen

In the ongoing process of easing coronavirus restrictions, several European countries have agreed to reopen their borders immediately or in the near future. The European press welcomes this, but some commentators call for clearer criteria and, in the event of future outbreaks, more cooperation in the phase when borders are being closed.

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Pravda (SK) /

May the first swallow be followed by many others

Pravda welcomes the efforts to reopen the borders within the Schengen area:

“One of the greatest achievements of the EU is the free movement of persons. So many people were reluctant to give up this convenience even though they understood that the most effective way to stop the spread of Covid-19 was to hermetically seal borders before it was too late. ... The news that Berlin will reopen its borders (initially to Luxembourg) this Saturday is the first swallow, which will hopefully be followed by others. All clouds have a silver lining. When the pandemic has abated and we can travel freely in Europe once more, those who only see the negative sides of the EU will be able to recognise the value of freedom.”

ABC (ES) /

Spain acting against its own interests

The fact that Spain has adopted strict quarantine regulations for travellers while Europe is already working on reopening its borders annoys ABC:

“The EU Commission recommended that member states open their borders under safe conditions. And it did so just 24 hours after the Spanish government introduced a two-week quarantine for every tourist arriving in Spain. At the same time, the Sánchez government doesn't appear to have any plan for the recovery of tourism even though the sector accounts for 12 percent of our wealth and last year we received 90 million visitors from abroad. ... What Spain is offering its foreign visitors upon their arrival is two weeks in their hotel, apartment or holiday home, which they can only leave to go shopping or to the pharmacy. What tourist is going to book a trip to Spain under these conditions?”

Postimees (EE) /

For a Baltic Schengen area

The borders between the Baltic States reopened today and commuting between Estonia and Finland resumed on Thursday. Postimees would like to see more cooperation when borders are closed in the future:

“Strong and uniform control on the EU's external border reduces the need to block internal borders. ... In the future we should consider the possibility of coordinating the sealing of the Baltic external border, provided none of us is the source of the danger. If borders are sealed again in the case of futher outbreaks, the Baltic Schengen Area should be maintained as long as possible. That way we won't have to waste resources on controlling each other's lorry drivers or introducing special regulations for Latvian workers.”

Der Standard (AT) /

What about Slovenia and Croatia?

The daily Der Standard criticises Austria for wanting to reopen its borders to certain countries like Germany, but not to the south:

“A good third of summer tourists come from our neighbour to the north. ... The infection figures of the two countries undoubtedly allow the border barriers to be lifted. In contrast to those of Italy, for example. ... But there are no good reasons for not including the southern neighbours Slovenia and Croatia, which so far have done relatively well in the corona crisis, in the 'reopening negotiations'. ... This reeks of isolationism and protectionist, stuffy state leadership. Austrians are to cancel their seaside holidays this year and stay at home just to fatten up the domestic tourism balance sheet.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Resentment will persist

Germany's Interior Minister Seehofer now wants to fight the virus together with neighboring countries in the name of the "European spirit". That sounds like a bad joke, the Tageblatt scoffs:

“Two months ago, without warning, the border with Luxembourg was closed from one day to the next. A decision that not only failed to reflect the reality of life in the border region, but was also taken over the heads of those who live and work there. For them it was just as normal to travel from Grevenmacher [in Germany] to Wellen [in Luxembourg] as it was to go from Esch to Differdingen [both in Luxembourg]. ... The closed borders have fuelled a lot of resentment towards our German neighbours. ... Opening them should calm people down a little - but the sense of bafflement, uncertainty and frustration will persist for some time to come.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Good for our mental health

Jyllands-Posten hopes that Denmark will soon follow suit:

“The decisions to close borders were taken at the national level, as are those to reopen them. Nevertheless, it is still important for there to be joint European efforts in this matter, and for the EU to get EU member countries with a similar risk of infection to reopen their shared borders. ... We have to adjust to completely different conditions than those we are used to. That applies to beaches as well as restaurants, hotels and campsites - distancing and small groups. But both for tourism and for our mental health it is important for us to get out and about.”