30 April 2020
Your Excellency Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia Mr. Jüri Ratas
Your Excellency Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Mr. Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš
Your Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Lithuania Ms. Jana Vanaveski
Your Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to Lithuania Mr. Indulis Bērziņš
The global health crisis caused by pandemics of coronavirus (COVID – 19), forced the Member States of European Union to adopt unprecedented measures, aimed at protecting individual countries from cases of coronavirus imported from abroad. Following the implementation of the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania „On Announcement of Quarantine in the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania“ the temporary border control of internal borders was prolonged until 14 May 2020. Similar governmental measures have been adopted in Estonia, Latvia and Poland. There have been no internal border controls for movement of people since accession of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland to the Schengen Area in 2007. Today, when governments are announcing the slowing down of the spread of the virus, the borders of the countries of the Baltic Region – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland still remain closed for internal travelers between those countries.
In the name of our Associations we thank everyone who is trying to slow the spread of the virus as well as deal with the consequences of it. We are also positive of the unprecedented response by EU and its Member States in fast implementation of necessary measures to protect its citizens.
Today it is clear that the economic impact of the measures undertaken by Member States in order to control the spread of the virus and save human lives will be devastating and will most probably surpass the negative economic impact last seen during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009. It is of utmost importance not to unduly prolong the validity of temporary measures and flexibly return to such EU freedoms as the free movement of people, which would ensure the positive environment needed for recovery of businesses.
We understand that limiting the freedom of movement of people is a sovereign right of every EU Member country. Nevertheless, we express our concern regarding the negative consequences of further prolongation of border control to the service business and trade relations between our neighboring countries of the Baltic Region.
Effective management of the pandemics in EU countries depends not only from the effectiveness of the healthcare systems, but also from economic measures ensuring faster economic recovery, decrease of unemployment and increase of economic activity in the service sector. Whereas member states that are delaying the scrapping of excess limitations may face unwanted side consequences, especially in the same service sector.
Taking into account the fact that all governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are announcing the decrease of cases of diagnosed coronavirus and are softening the conditions of quarantine, we kindly implore your governments to eliminate the border controls of internal borders between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as provided for in the Schengen Agreement following 11th of May 2020. The same kind requests have been sent to the Governments and Embassies of Lithuania and Poland.
We are sure that faster opening of internal borders between our countries will increase the economic activity of residents of our Baltic Region.
We kindly urge the Governments and Heads of State of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to act in solidarity and flexibly. We hope that due leadership will be shown and an agreement on ambitious, balanced and well-coordinated actions will be reached.
We express the full support of our Associations in the joint fight against the COVID -19 crisis in order to ensure as fast as possible economic recovery of our countries and Europe as a whole. Even small steps towards normalization of usual business conditions will help and support our joint economic recovery.
Robert Juodka, Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania
Vytautas Kregždė, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania
Beata Čaplinska, Executive Director of the Polish Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce