In the Grand Est Region: a European equation to be found between border closures and economic interdependenceMarch 2020
Since 16 March, the Strasbourg Transport Company has no longer been authorised to serve Germany, and the tramway going from Strasbourg to Kehl stops at the border. Within a few days, following the spread of the coronavirus in Europe, control and restriction measures were put in place at the Grand Est borders, while population containment was implemented.
On 12 March, the first controls were introduced at the border, following the decision of the German Robert Koch Institute, responsible for disease control, which declared the Grand Est Region as a "risk zone". On 16 March, the French-German border was closed except for the transport of goods and cross-border workers. On Tuesday 17, France implements population containment; Luxembourg announces a "state of crisis" while Switzerland closes its borders to those who do not reside or work in Switzerland. Finally, Belgium adopts strict containment measures on the 18th of March.
Concerns arose in this context of drastic travel restrictions about the preservation of the rights of cross-border workers and the sustainability of economic ties on both sides of the border. The neighbouring countries took urgent common measures. They agreed to maintain employment contracts of cross-border workers, to extend teleworking possibilities beyond 25% of the employee's working hours, and to guarantee all social protection rights and full remuneration. The details of these measures are listed and indexed by the association "Frontaliers Grand Est", a resource centre for cross-border workers.
The emergency and exceptional measures required by the situation of cross-border workers also reflect the interdependence of local economic systems on regional borders. They are today proof of the continuity and integration of these territories. In times of crisis, this continuity can represent a basis for operational cooperation between European states.
Photo : Jean Isenmann, ADEUS
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