Xavier Bettel and Corinne Cahen participated in the meeting of the Greater Region held on 17 February
Photo: Xavier Bettel/Twitter
The different partners of the Greater Region have agreed on a common approach to border monitoring, to avoid a repeat of 2020’s unilateral border closures.
Luxembourg, Lorraine, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and the Belgian Walloon region (as well as the Wallonia-Brussels Federation) published a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday concerning “the strengthening of cooperation and coordination in the framework of the monitoring of border workers and cross-border commuters between the partners of the Greater Region”.
The document extends agreements reached at the exceptional summit of the executive of the Greater Region, which was held virtually last week. Prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) and Greater Region minister Corinne Cahen (DP) attended on behalf of Luxembourg.
“The aim of this agreement is simple: to keep all borders open,” said Cahen on Wednesday. “This is only hanging by a thread at the moment. And we want to do everything we can to convince the various capitals around us to go in our direction. Closing the borders would be the worst thing that could happen to us. For the 260,000 cross border workers of the Greater Region. But also for their families, some of whom could be separated in the event of a closure.”
Last week's meeting followed rumours that the Moselle danger level would rise from level 1 to 2 (high incidence zone) or even level 3 (zone affected by the variants of the virus). However, while each German state decides its own health policy up to level 2, from level 3 onwards, the state takes the lead and can then decide to close the borders. This is what has happened in recent weeks for the Czech Republic and Austria.
Giving a strong signal in Berlin
The ambition of the Greater Region was therefore above all to make a declaration of intent, in order to give a strong signal to Berlin, by showing united partners ready to work together to successfully contain the pandemic. And this by applying a common screening and sequencing policy on the scale of this Greater Region and consolidating the tracing methods that have already been initiated.
“It is difficult to say whether we have convinced Berlin or not,” Cahen continued. “In any case, it was important to invite high-ranking officials of the German State to our meeting. So that they could feel how the different partners live and work together.” At the time of writing, the classification of the Moselle had still not been reviewed by the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health body.
Cahen confirmed what seemed even clearer in view of the agreement signed with the other partners of the Greater Region: “There is no question at all of closing our border with France. We are not thinking about it.”
With 60% of the medical and health personnel coming from abroad, it is inevitably logical for Luxembourg to want to keep borders open.
This article was originally published on Paperjam.lu in French. It has been translated and edited for Delano.