This pandemic has changed us. It has changed the way we interact, it has changed the way we go about our daily lives. Not being able to visit family, open your shop, celebrate your birthday or visit your favourite spot in town has changed the way we look at freedom. It created boundaries that were never there. Freedom is no longer something to be taken for granted, but instead both a luxury and a necessity. We must not give in to fear, but learn to live with this new, unwanted companion and we must do so by putting in place safety measures that do not compromise our freedoms.
Border closure, while necessary in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, is no silver bullet. It is no solution. It stopped families from seeing each other, friends missing each other's important milestones and business owners from selling their products. The only thing that will stop the virus and bring us together again is common health and safety protocols. Freedom of movement within the EU is necessary so that our nurses in border regions can continue to work, so that our local businesses can survive the summer season, so that our students on exchange programmes can continue their studies, so that families that live across borders can be reunited.
And if the epidemiological situation allows it, Europeans can take a much deserved break this summer. Staying safe and going European.
We have a responsibility to make sure we do the right things to dispel fears and get the EU moving again. Transparency and accurate information can do a lot. The EU Commission has launched the ReOpenEU app that is updated nearly in real time and shows the epidemiological situation in each EU Member State and info on travel restrictions and public health measures in place. If you wanted to go on holiday this summer, this is the place to start.
Getting the EU moving again
Going European this summer will give a much-needed boost to tourism businesses, hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, many of which are family-owned. Their future depends on support from the EU. Immediate financial support and a coordinated exit strategy from national lockdowns has not only helped tourism regions, but has also rebuilt the trust and confidence of Europeans who would like to go on summer holiday. We must make sure that there is continuing coordination among EU countries so that information on containment measures and infection rates is easily accessible.
To make travelling safe, we need to allow for the maximum amount of freedom, at the lowest possible risk of spreading the virus. European-wide protocols for air, sea and train travel and common health and sanitary standards for hotels, restaurants and museums and their personnel, can ensure that the local tourism infrastructure is COVID-proof.
Some things have changed, but some things have stayed the same. We will still want to visit our family abroad, take our loved ones for a stroll on that beach we always wanted to visit, hang out in that small cafe so full of local flavour. Only now, we will do it carefully and responsibly.
This summer, #staysafe and #GoEuropean.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States