"It seems to us that there is a lack of coherence in the restrictive measures that some Member States are taking," declared Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, speaking to journalists in Brussels after the meeting with his EU counterparts.
Speaking after the first four-month face-to-face meeting of EU foreign ministers, given the pandemic, Augusto Santos Silva noted that he also brought this issue to the meeting, noting, in a discussion on disinformation, “that the best way to combat confusion is with clarity ”.
The head of Portuguese diplomacy took the opportunity to “regret that several Member States are not using clarity, but are, on the contrary, creating confusion as they are not applying the general guidance set by the Interior Ministers to reopen internal borders and full implementation of free movement in the Schengen area by the end of June ”.
“And, on the contrary, case-by-case decisions are taking place based on technical criteria called into question by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, by criteria used in a non-contextualized way, by a single indicator, when the epidemiological situation has to be verified from several, or by non-technical criteria ”, such as retaliation, criticized Augusto Santos Silva.
The official said he hoped that free movement in the EU and the Schengen area would be fully restored "in the coming weeks".
Augusto Santos Silva gave as an example the “curious and elucidative case” from Belgium, which started by including Portugal in the 'orange' group - under which tests and quarantine are strongly recommended -, a measure that has since been revised.
“We made the Belgian authorities see two things: that there was a lack of technical-scientific grounds for the measure to be applied to Portugal as a whole and that […] they could not ignore that Brussels is the seat of many European institutions and, therefore, the seat of the institutions has to be open, ”specified the head of Portuguese diplomacy.
Then, on Thursday, the Belgian authorities included the Lisbon region in the lot of 'red zones' considered to be of high risk due to the covid-19, imposing mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in Belgium from the Portuguese capital, a restriction that still remains. maintains, albeit unclearly and without monitoring.
"We are talking about EU member states that have obligations and one of them is respect for free movement", he stressed.
The Portuguese minister indicated, however, to understand that confinement measures may be being adopted again, which he “understands well”.
"It is not a question of not resorting to them when it is necessary to control new outbreaks that may appear and that we knew could appear when the deflation process started," he stressed.
However, for Portugal, there are no “elements that allow us to believe that quarantine measures are as powerful as their alternatives”, that is, those of hygiene and social distance, since forced isolation “is relatively convertible”, said Augusto Santos Silva.