EU calls for European borders to reopen to save tourist season

With a travel sector that normally accounts for about 10 percent of the EU's economy ravaged by COVID-19, the EU Commission urged a return to free movement within Europe, with plans that include requiring face masks on airplanes and social distancing on trains.

Margrethe Vestager, a Commission deputy head, said on Wednesday (May 13) the proposal aimed to present "gradual, careful steps to help travel restart in line with what science tells us."

The commission also wants vouchers for canceled flights or holidays to be valid for at least a year, with protection against bankruptcies, so people will accept them instead of demanding refunds from cash-strapped airlines and travel firms.

Transport commissioner Adina Valean subsequently said that letters were being sent to all 27 EU countries to remind that all customers have the right to cash refunds over canceled travel or holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EU is in a fix over whether to stick firmly to the rule that EU citizens be given cash refunds in the event of cancelations or to take account of the travel industry crisis caused by coronavirus restrictions and allow companies to offer only vouchers for future travel.

A majority of EU countries favor the latter approach.

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