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Management of the European Union's (Internal and External) Borders during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hervey, T. ORCID: 0000-0002-8310-9022, Fyfe, A. & Delhomme, V. (2024). Management of the European Union's (Internal and External) Borders during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In: Pandemics, Public Health, and the Regulation of Borders. (pp. 65-78). Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003394006-9


Free movement of persons is a core ‘constitutional’ value of the EU. Yet in March 2020, EU Member States closed their borders, restricting free movement of persons. These diverging national measures triggered an EU-level response—mainly through soft law—aiming to coordinate travel restrictions and facilitate the free movement of EU citizens where possible. Over time, the administrative practicalities of reopening borders led to a ‘hardening’ of soft law, including through digital vaccination ‘passports’. EU measures focused on openness/freedom and lifting restrictions on cross-border movements, rather than on a preventative/population health focus on containment as a public health response. Further, roles for law were diminished, meaning that scrutiny of executive power deployed to control borders within and at the edges of the EU was also diminished. Effective public health governance should be subject to the rule of law: the EU’s Covid-19 border law and policy was insufficiently so.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Pandemics, Public Health, and the Regulation of Borders on 15 February 2024, available online:
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: The City Law School
The City Law School > Academic Programmes
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Hervey et al EU Borders and Covid19 FINAL.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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