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Leo Varadkar expressed support for coordinated approach at EU level to lifting restrictions on travel. Leah Farrell
lifting the lockdown

Taoiseach discusses lockdown exit and foreign travel restrictions with EC President

He briefed her on the gradual steps Ireland is taking to reopen its economy.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR spoke with European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon by telephone.

He briefed her on the “careful, gradual steps” Ireland is taking to reopen its economy. 

Varadkar expressed his support for a coordinated approach at EU level to lifting restrictions on travel.

Earlier in the week, the EU set out plans for a phased restart of travel this summer, hoping to save millions of tourism jobs threatened by the coronavirus pandemic across Europe, the world’s top holiday destination.

Travel restrictions to combat the virus have already had a devastating impact on the sector, with airlines around the continent forced to shed tens of thousands of jobs.

While decisions about reopening borders fall to national governments, Brussels is urging the 27 EU states to take a coordinated approach to lifting restrictions — after a haphazard start to the crisis in which capitals closed frontiers with little or no consultation.

The EU is proposing a three-stage approach, starting with the current situation in which most non-essential travel across borders is banned.

In the next phase, the EU wants border restrictions lifted between countries and regions at a similar stage of the pandemic, and where the health situation is improving.

In the final phase, all coronavirus-related border controls would be lifted and travel permitted throughout Europe once again.

Brussels is urging governments to consider economic and social factors as well as health as they weigh up reopening their borders.

Varadkar said in the Dáil recently that he wants foreign travel to be up and running by August. Health Minister Simon Harris has said such travel might not be possible this year.

Speaking over the phone today, von der Leyen set out her thinking on an EU Recovery Fund, and on how the EU’s budget can be mobilised to support sectors and regions affected by the crisis to build a greener, more resilient economy. 

The Taoiseach stressed the vital role the agriculture sector can play and the importance of a properly funded CAP.  

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