High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell, supported by the EEAS, the Commission and EU Delegations around the world, is leading the work to strengthen coordination among Member States to help EU citizens who are currently stranded outside the EU
To find out more on the Coronavirus response, visit the constantly updated page of the European Commission here.
The EEAS is supporting Member States with their consular assistance to EU citizens through its network of local consular correspondents in the 142 EU Delegations. The EU “consular toolkit” involves practical information to EU citizens in third countries on their options. This includes EU collaboration on repatriating EU citizens and advice on how to handle travel restrictions around the world.
So far, the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism has facilitated the repatriation of more than 1162 EU citizens to Europe from China, Iran, Japan, US and most recently from Morocco.
With transport costs co-financed by the Commission, an Austrian plane departed from Morocco landed in Vienna yesterday, successfully repatriating some 290 citizens. HR/VP Borrell had spoken to Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on Sunday 15 March to address the situation of European citizens in the country trying to return to Europe. As a result, Morocco authorities granted an extension to return flights until 19 March.
Where else has the EU provided support so far?
The EU has assisted in the coordination of repatriation of a number of flights from Wuhan over several days. This required close coordination between the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre, EU Member States and the EU Delegation in China.
When most airlines had stopped their services, the coordination at both capital and local level resulted in the safe return of about 630 EU citizens. Thanks to the coordinated local efforts, sufficient capacities could be organised at commercial airlines, so it was not necessary to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. DG ECHO monitored the situation closely.
Japan and the US
A number of cruise ships with many EU citizens on board have been denied permission to call at several ports in different regions of the world.
- EEAS services assisted EU Member States actively in coordinating the local handling regarding return flights and assistance of citizens in quarantine or undergoing health checks.
- The situation of the Diamond Princess in Yokohama and the Grand Princess in Oakland (California), required the repatriation of EU citizens under the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
- Especially in the case of the Grand Princess, the active 24/7 engagement of EEAS HQ and the EU delegation in Washington have proven decisive for the successful repatriation of citizens.
From 15 March, an entry ban for citizens from a number of EU countries is in place. Travellers from these countries still arriving may either return with the next available flight or undergo a 14-day quarantine. The EU Delegation and EU Member States’ embassies cooperate closely with local authorities and airlines to facilitate the timely return of affected EU citizens via commercial means.
After the confirmation of the first COVID-19 cases in different resort islands, the Maldives government put several measures in place: health checks, temporary lockdown of resorts, isolation/treatment where necessary.
Since there is no diplomatic representation by any EU Member State in the capital, Malé, nor an EU Delegation, the German Embassy in Colombo employed its consular team to assess situation and to assist tour operators responsible for organising commercial return flights.
The EU Delegation in Colombo travelled to the Maldives, held talks with relevant authorities and organised local coordination meetings with EU Honorary Consuls and German diplomats, associating also British diplomats.