Germany & Eastern Europe aim for gradual removal of border controls

The leaders of Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have agreed to gradually dismantle border checks put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic as soon as the situation allows, a German government official said on Tuesday.

No set timeframe was given for the easing of travel restrictions, said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who participated in a video conference with her Eastern European counterparts from the so-called Visegrad Group.

Following the talks, Merkel held a bilateral call with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in which cooperation on reopening the two neighbors’ border was also discussed, Seibert said.

Merkel and Babis also discussed developing the train line that connects the capitals of Berlin and Prague.

The chancellor is also said to have explained central aspects of a Franco-German proposal for a 500-billion-euro (545-billion-dollar) European recovery fund in response to the coronavirus crisis.