Differing national approaches to reopening borders jeopardises recovery

ACI Europe and A4E highlight how the smooth reopening of external EU borders is being jeopardised by non-harmonised, uncoordinated national measures.

Despite agreeing at EU Council level to a scientific-based approach and endorsing their own ‘white list’ recommendation just one week ago, EU States are adopting extremely diverging lists. As a result, there is very little clarity on which citizens can travel where. This has effectively led to a patchwork system of travel restrictions and border controls throughout Europe which may remain in place for weeks or months to come.


The situation also weakens the functioning of the Schengen area: Since Member States apply different rules, a Japanese tourist could choose to fly to Warsaw and then travel within the Schengen space without controls.


ACI EUROPE and A4E, representing Europe’s airports and airlines, have urged EU and Schengen States to follow the agreed, fact-based approach towards lifting the ban on non-essential travel to the EU and Schengen area for countries where the epidemiological situation allows.


Examples of diverging implementation of the EU Council recommendations include:


  • Belgium keeping its borders closed to travellers from the 15 white-listed countries until further notice
  • Germany reopening its borders to eight countries from the white list while requiring reciprocity from China, Japan and South Korea before lifting entry restrictions from those countries
  • Greece barring entry to Serbian nationals (not residents), therefore not following the Council Recommendation and going against the EU principle of non-discrimination
  • Hungary announcing that it will not open its borders to non-EU countries except Serbia for the moment
  • Ireland extending its advice to avoid all non-essential travel until 20 July; a ‘green list’ of countries which people could travel to will not be published until then
  • Poland extending its flight ban until 14 July, except for flights from the EU, Canada, Albania, Georgia, Japan, Korea, Montenegro and Ukraine – thereby not using the whole list of approved countries
  • Spain reopening its borders on 4 July to 12 countries from the white list – however residents of Algeria, China and Morocco will only be able to travel to Spain if these countries reopen their borders to Spanish residents in a reciprocity move.

“We can’t afford to exit the situation as chaotically as we entered it,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI EUROPE. “EU countries are not sticking to their own agreed plan. This is not conducive to consumer confidence and it is clearly undermining efforts to restore air connectivity.”


European aviation remains in a severe and unprecedented crisis. Annual losses are projected to total €82 billion, globally – the worst year in aviation’s financial history.