ACB Press Release: The Health Shield Europe Initiative (#HeShEu) and a Call by 11 EU Foreign Ministers for the Gradual Restoration of the Free Movement of People with Full Guarantees for Their Health

21 May 2020, The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria

On 7 April 2020, in an open letter to European Commission President von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, a European team of statesmen, leaders and scientists launched the Health Shield Europe (#HeShEu) initiative.

The initiative calls for the adoption of uniform quarantine regulations introduced by national governments for a Medical Schengen-type agreement to be coordinated by the European Commission and to facilitate the free movement of people.

The European Commission took note of the logic of this call and on 13 May published guidelines and recommendations for a common approach to restoring freedom of travel (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_854).

In response to the package of measures proposed by the European Commission, the first diplomats of Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Croatia agreed to work for a pan-European approach to the gradual opening of borders, without however compromising human health. The video conference was initiated by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

“It is especially important to have pan-European health measures and rules to be applied when traveling in the EU,” Ekaterina Zaharieva said during a video conference. “This includes uniform medical protocols for welcoming foreign tourists, because if each country introduces its own border practices, citizens will find it difficult. Currently, health authorities in different countries apply different methods of passenger control: temperature measurement, quarantine, PCR tests, random screening.”

We note with satisfaction that the timely proposals of the Health Shield Europe Initiative are being implemented by the EU institutions and Member States.

The Health Shield Europe Initiative team, coordinated from Sofia by The Atlantic Club in Bulgaria, calls on the Croatian EU Presidency, the European Commission and the European Parliament to carefully and without delay consider the whole philosophy of HeShEu and incorporate it into a new EU strategy, to be proposed to the UN as the 18th Sustainable Development Goal declared in the UN system.