Malta will stick to its plan to reopen commercial travel on July 1, despite pressure from the European Commission for member states to remove restrictions earlier. 

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said that the Commission was recommending Schengen member states and affiliated countries lift internal border restrictions by June 15.

"We are coming very close to a situation where we should lift all the internal border restrictions and border checks," Johansson told Euronews, speaking on the eve of a videoconference of European interior ministers.

However, Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli told Times of Malta that while Malta had been involved in negotiations about travel restrictions with Brussels, commercial flights would restart as scheduled on July 1. 

“We were also part of these discussions and were in constant dialogue with the EU about travel restrictions and, together with the health authorities, have been observing how the situation has unfolded internationally,” Farrugia Portelli said. 

“At the end of the day we didn’t wait for the EU to tell us to close our ports, so when we made that decision there wasn’t that sort of input on a European level.

“But it's an interesting and important ongoing discussion because we can see that many countries are tackling COVID-19 very well as figures continue to drop.”

Malta has detailed 19 countries or regions that it will allow travel to from the beginning of July. However, on Thursday, Malta International Airport said airlines were currently offering flights to just nine countries from next month

The minister noted that its strategy for reopening borders was always planned in batches and would not be indefinitely limited to the 19 countries already announced. She said negotiations were underway with a cluster of other countries and would be announced in the coming days. 

As the summer tourist season approaches, several nations, including France and Belgium, have announced the reopening of their borders, with more European countries, including Germany, set to follow suit on June 15. Italy did so on Wednesday.

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