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Fears for flow of goods after EU border closures

The European Commission (EC) will encourage member states to co-ordinate border closures amid fears that unilateral closures by individual countries could inhibit the flow of goods and critically needed people.

More and more member states have announced restrictions on people entering their territory as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Europe.

Spain said it was considering closing its borders while Germany has introduced border controls with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland in a bid to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

Last night the Commission moved to restrict the export of protective equipment for healthcare workers to outside the European Union (EU) in order to ensure that member states had sufficient supplies.

The EU has struggled to maintain a coordinated response to the crisis, as countries take unilateral measures to impose restrictions on their borders.

Over the weekend Denmark announced border measures, joining Poland and the Czech Republic who took action to restrict their frontiers last week. The restrictions are not blanket, and some countries have distinguished goods traffic from movements of people.

However, they have caused huge queues in some instances, and prompted EC president Ursula von der Leyen yesterday to warn that shops could face difficulties in stocking supplies that are produced elsewhere in the single market.

The Commission will today issue guidelines as to what health checks member states could operate at their borders. The EC will also launch an initiative to jointly procure with member states testing kits and respiratory ventilators so that countries within the EU hardest hit will be able to get the equipment needed.

At the same time, the Commission last night adopted an emergency measure that would have the effect of restricting the sale outside the EU of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

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