EU official warns Merkel an uncoordinated border reopening could threaten Europe

The European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs has called for a “coordinated” approach to reopening borders within the European Union. Paolo Gentiloni, also a former Italian prime minister, warned that if there are too many “huge differences” among member states regarding reopening then Europe could be plunged into a “very difficult situation”. This follows Angela Merkel’s announcement that Germany will start easing pandemic restrictions after a month-long lockdown, despite many other states mainting their stringent measures.

He told France24: “I think it will be a gradual process but I have to say the Commission effort to keep open these borders at least for fundamental goods and medical equipment were successful.

“If we would have failed in these efforts, it would be very clear. Our market would be in a very difficult situation now for all the goods we need.”

Regarding the free movement of people and labour in the union, he said: “Yesterday we presented guidelines for a common European exit strategy.

“It is clear that we have to combine the power of member states and coordination among member states.”

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Mr Gentiloni continued: “To be very clear if we have too huge differences among member states reopening, especially among neighbour member states, we will have a very difficult situation.

“You can’t have 20km with completely different situations on restaurants, shops and business going ons.

“So coordination is useful for everybody without obviously a substitution of the commission to national Parliaments and national Governments, which is not in the treaty or our intentions.

“I think that it is in the timetable for the next weeks and months.”

The European Commissioner added: “We don’t have a closing that is blocking what is mostly needed in this moment.

“What is mostly needed in this moment is too maintain and to keep medical equipment and fundamental goods moving from one European country to another.

“We succeeded in keeping this moving and borders are perfectly coordinated.”

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Mr Gentiloni also spoke about effectiveness of the EU’s response so far: “The reaction of single member states is, in any case, necessary and it should be fast and strong.

“Then I would say we say we had a European strong reaction after a few days of non-coordination.

“This reaction was with the suspension of our fiscal rules, with our new rules for state aid, with the strong intervention of the European Central Bank, with 500 billion euros for expenditures of jobs and assistance.

“I think this is not enough, we need a step further.”

There will be a meeting in the next few days of EU leaders to discuss a coordinated pandemic effort.

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