The European Commission said Monday it was "
" at the extension by Belgium of the ban on non-essential travel, indicating to examine "
all the options
" possible against this decision deemed disproportionate.
Read also: Belgium: non-essential travel abroad prohibited until April 18
Belgium, a country where the main European institutions sit and where many expatriates live, banned non-essential travel from and to its territory at the end of January in order to fight the pandemic, until April 1.
Despite remonstrances from the European Commission, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday that this ban would be extended until April 18, to include the Easter holidays.
We were surprised to read in the press a new extension of the travel ban
", reacted Monday a spokesman for the European executive, Christian Wigand, questioned during the daily press briefing.
He specified that this extension to April 18 was "
" by the Belgian authorities in their letter to the Commission received on Thursday, which only referred to the date of "
This Belgian letter responded to a letter from the European executive asking it to replace the ban on non-essential travel "
by more targeted measures
Member States must respect the principle of proportionality enshrined in Union law
", recalled the spokesperson.
We do not believe that a travel ban respects this principle,
" he said.
The European Commission sent letters of warning to a total of six countries in February for their travel restrictions linked to Covid-19 deemed disproportionate: Belgium, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Hungary.
The EU executive said it had received
" from the first three countries.
We will analyze the responses received by the respective Member States and quickly examine all options on the table for follow-up,
” added Christian Wigand.
Among these options, the Commission can launch an infringement procedure against a country, which can lead to a referral to European justice and ultimately to sanctions.
In its response letter, Germany for its part rejected the criticisms of the Commission, stressing the need for its border controls with neighboring regions with "
Freedom of movement is a fundamental freedom.
We will continue to act to ensure that the recommendations adopted by the Council of the EU are respected, and to avoid travel bans
”, tweeted the European Commissioner for Justice, the Belgian Didier Reynders.