Joint statement of the Members of the European Council
The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge for Europe and the whole world. It requires urgent, decisive, and comprehensive action at the EU, national, regional and local levels. We will do everything that is necessary to protect our citizens and overcome the crisis, while preserving our European values and way of life.
We recognise the burden these measures put on all our citizens and praise their sense of responsibility. We express our deepest sympathy with the victims of the pandemic and their families. We commend the dedication and tireless efforts of the healthcare professionals at the forefront of the outbreak and the contribution of those who provide essential services to the population. We will cooperate with the international community and our external partners in combating the global pandemic.
We will continue to work along the five strands defined at our videoconferences on 10 and 17 March 2020 and do what is necessary to overcome the crisis.
Limiting the spread of the virus
1. All Member States have taken, based on advice from their national health authorities, decisive action to contain and slow down the spread of the virus. This effort is underpinned and supported by the guidelines of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the recommendations of the Commission COVID-19 Advisory Panel. Further guidelines will be issued as necessary, and we will continue to keep track of developments through the EU’s Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR), activated by the Croatian Presidency.
2. We have reinforced the control of our external borders by applying a coordinated temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU. We will evaluate the situation in due time and decide whether or not to prolong these measures.
3. Where temporary internal border controls have been introduced, we will ensure smooth border management for persons and goods and preserve the functioning of the Single Market, based on the Commission guidelines of 16 March 2020, in accordance with the Schengen Borders Code, and the Commission’s guidance on the implementation of “green lanes”. We will urgently address, with the assistance of the Commission, the remaining problems concerning EU citizens blocked at internal EU borders and prevented from returning to their home countries and cross-border and seasonal workers who have to be able to continue essential activities while avoiding further spread of the virus.