Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voiced his opposition to internal border closures across the EU, branding them as “nonsense” in an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Juncker’s home country of Luxembourg was hit hard when Berlin imposed controls at its border with the Grand Duchy in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“It forced tens of thousands of German cross-border travelers to make huge detours. It was nonsense,” Juncker said. “They closed the borders without thinking about the people who’d be the victims of such an arbitrary decision.”
The Commission has prioritized restoring free movement in the Schengen zone, asking countries to lift internal EU border checks wherever possible. Germany has outlined plans to ease foreign travel restrictions from June 15.
Juncker also spoke about the EU’s economic recovery plans, calling a Franco-German proposal for a €500 billion recovery fund “the right response.”
“It allows the European Union to respond with solidarity, especially for members in southern Europe. This is absolutely necessary,” he said.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the Franco-German proposal as insufficient in an opinion piece for POLITICO, although noting it was a significant step. “If we are to overcome this crisis together, as a union of common interests and common values, much more needs to be done,” Conte wrote.