Coronavirus: Unique EU consular operation brought home over 500,000 EU citizens from abroad
In an unprecedented repatriation effort, the EU has managed to bring home over half a million of its citizens who were affected by coronavirus travel restrictions across the world. At the beginning of the outbreak, around 600,000 EU citizens declared themselves stranded outside the EU. Most of them in the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas. Intense efforts by the EU in terms of consular cooperation, EU funded repatriation flights and coordination have managed to bring home as of today already more than 500,000 of them. This concerns EU short-term travellers outside the EU. In March, the European Council tasked the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell to coordinate the repatriation operations of the EU citizens and a dedicated Consular Task Force was set up by the European External Action Service. This Task Force works in close cooperation with the Member States and the European Commission. In an unprecedented effort, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) has co-financed and co-organised almost 200 flights that have brought back home around 45,000 EU citizens. This massive and historically unique consular cooperation of the EU Member States and EU institutions has also benefitted citizens from other partner countries, such as Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK, with 5,000 of their citizens being repatriated with EU flights. Currently, there are still around 98,900 EU citizens stranded abroad and efforts are ongoing to bring them home in the coming days. Find out more about the different stories and experiences from EU citizens repatriated thanks to the EU and Member States here and on Twitter #WeTakeYouHome. A summary table of the repatriation flights is also available online.