By / November 27, 2020

Towards a common EU approach to lifting coronavirus-related restrictions on freedom of movement

In an effort to tackle the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, EU Member States started reinstating restrictions on the freedom of movement in October 2020.

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Written by Costica Dumbrava (updated on 13.7.2021).

To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Member States have taken a wide range of measures, which have significantly affected the free movement of people in the EU. Restrictions on freedom of movement have varied in time and across countries – following generally but not strictly – successive ‘waves’ of coronavirus infections. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the EU and the Member States have been active in developing a coordinated response to the pandemic, starting from emergency measures to mitigate the effects of the sudden introduction of border controls in the early days of the pandemic to establishing common approaches on risk indicators, interoperable contact tracing apps, vaccination and digital certification.

This briefing provides an overview of the main restrictions on free movement adopted by the EU and Schengen countries focusing on control measures at the internal borders introduced between March 2020 and July 2021. It then discusses the key steps taken by the EU and the Member States to develop a common approach to lifting restrictions on freedom of movement. The briefing also places the coronavirus-related restrictions of movement in the context of broader efforts to update and strengthen the Schengen system, which has been under stress for at least a decade.

This is an updated edition of an EPRS briefing published in November 2020.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Towards a common EU approach to lifting coronavirus-related restrictions on freedom of movement‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


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