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Coronavirus

Post-COVID, Europe Needs A Coherent Approach To Free Movement Of People: EuroCommerce

Europe needs to define a coherent, responsible approach to the free movement of people as the COVID-19 crisis subsides, in order to provide a boost to a struggling retail sector, business group EuroCommerce has said.

The group, which represents the retail and wholesale sector in Europe, said that it was 'concerned' that existing measures create 'confusion in the public and among commercial operators in the tourism and retail sector'.

It said that the near-disappearance of tourism across the continent has 'severely affected' stores in town centres, tourism areas, and border areas, as well as at airports.

Closed Borders

'We share with member state governments the priority of avoiding a second wave of COVID infection,' EuroCommerce said in a statement. 'But, as Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson pointed out recently, closing borders is not as effective in stopping the spread of disease as people continuing to observe strict hygiene and social distancing rules.

'If people are able to move around inside a member state while observing these rules, moving across a border, whether for tourism or to shop in a neighbouring country should not make any real difference to the risk of infection.'

Coordinated Approach

EuroCommerce has asked the European Commission to adopt a more coordinated approach to border opening while also providing for continued observance of hygiene regulations.

It also called for a balanced, risk-based return to the Treaty's four freedoms, and a 'more normal pattern of cross-border movement to allow tourism to restart and consumers to shop across borders if they wish'.

EuroCommerce said that the Commission needs to ensure that recovery measures are aimed at industries that have been most affected by the crisis, namely tourism, hospitality and retail.

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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