The European Commission recommends to EU member states to lift travel restrictions for Western Balkans as of 1 July, given that their epidemiological situation is similar or better than that of the EU, MIA’s Brussels correspondent reported Thursday.

Today the European Commission recommends to Schengen Member States and Schengen Associated States to lift internal border controls by 15 June 2020 and to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU until 30 June 2020; and sets out an approach to progressively lifting the restriction afterwards.

Given that the health situation in certain third countries remains critical, the Commission does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at this stage. The restriction should be lifted for countries selected together by Member States, based on a set of principles and objective criteria including the health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and reciprocity considerations, taking into account data from relevant sources such as ECDC and WHO, EC said.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Following the lifting of all internal border checks inside the Union, we are proposing a clear and flexible approach towards removing restrictions on travel to the EU starting on 1 July. International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting. While we will all have to remain careful, the time has come to make concrete preparations for lifting restrictions with countries whose health situation is similar to the EU’s and for resuming visa operations.”

“This also follows on the Commission’s readiness to closely associate the Western Balkans region with the implementation of the roadmap towards lifting containment measures,” EC said.

The EC reminds that the European Union is committed to helping the region recover economically from this crisis, and that it is important to strengthen the region’s connection to the European market.

The EC recommends the decisions on lifting restrictions to be prepared with Member States under the EU’s integrated political crisis response mechanism. Member States should adopt such decisions in a coordinated manner and ensure uniform application across the EU.