It is evident that the current lockdown is having an unprecedented slowdown in the movement of persons between EU Member States. This is not due to a restriction which was imposed by the EU itself but because of the restrictions which the Member States themselves imposed through their respective Public Health officials.
It is noticeable that the legal restrictions on immigration were driven by the Member States' individual rules rather than by a general guideline from the EU. Consequently, the European Commission issued a guideline on how to ensure that certain posted workers and others are not inhibited from exercising their right of freedom of movement within the EU.
The 'Communication from the Commission Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during COVID-19 outbreak'1 was published by the European Commission on the 30th of March 2020. It gives a list of the categories of posted workers who should be able to exercise their freedom of movement during the Covid-19 pandemic despite the current restrictions.
The list includes: health professionals, essential transport workers, fishermen, ICT professionals, protective service workers, workers in food production, pilots and other essential workers. It also adds that seasonal workers in essential industries (such as agriculture) are to be allowed to cross borders too.
Moreover, the Commission is recommending that appropriate health screening is to be done on the workers who are being allowed to exercise their freedom of movement during this health crisis. This health screening should be done at the border and has to follow the same procedure which is applied to nationals.
Many of the recommendations of the Commission had already been implemented by the Maltese government prior to the publishing of this communication. Nonetheless, this document serves as an indication of how the EU is reacting to Covid-19 in ensuring that the restrictions imposed by Member States are not exceeding the principle of proportionality within the doctrine of freedom of movement.
The EU Commission's full communication can be obtained through the following link: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020XC0330(03)
1Communication from the
Commission Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement
of workers during COVID-19 outbreak 2020/C 102 I/03
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Article orignally published on 24 April 2020
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