Source: European Union External Action
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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.
The priority is to repatriate EU citizens via commercial flights. However, when this option is no longer possible, the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of DG ECHO, together with EEAS and EU Member States, steps in to assess difficult situations worldwide demanding special assets (flights, ships). EU Member States can then activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), which coordinates and co-finances up to 75% of the special transport assets mobilised for repatriation. The UCPM has so far facilitated the repatriation of over 1.800 EU citizens to Europe from China, Japan, the US and Morocco.
Germany is organising a total of 13 flights throughout this week to bring back EU citizens from Egypt, Morocco, the Philippines, Tunisia and Argentina.
Close to 30.000 EU tourists stranded in Morocco returned last weekend, and 604 EU citizens have been brought back earlier this week in two Austrian flights under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. There are still up to 6.000 EU tourists willing to return that remain in the country. HR/VP Borrell spoke 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 have granted an extension to return flights until 22 March.
Where else has the EU provided support so far?
After close coordination by the EU Delegation together with EU Member States, Kuwait is ready to provide transport to certain European destinations for EU nationals who may wish to return to Europe [on the special outbound chartered flights that will soon be flying to various European cities in order to pick up Kuwaiti citizens for repatriation].
On 18 March, the HR/VP had a call with the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs. Following this call, the local EU Delegation, together with different Member States consulates, organised a flight for EU citizens stranded in Vietnam.
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 Coronavirus 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.