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    Benelux becomes aware of its borders

    Credit: Jérôme Kune (CC BY 3.0)

    The Benelux region has spoken out for the people struggling with cross border living in the face of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in a letter sent to its members on Monday.

    The letter – by the Benelux Parliament – was sent to the Prime Ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as to the Minister-Presidents of the Belgian federated states, asking them for the prospect of reopening the borders between the three countries.

    According to the letter, the Parliament has recently received numerous complaints from inhabitants of border regions faced with practical problems, both as frontier workers and in terms of their social contacts (visiting family, practising sport, owning a second home, etc.).

    “Never before had they become so aware of the existence of borders,” the assembly stressed.

    The aim is a “coordinated relaunch” in order to reduce the “negative impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy and social relations, taking account, of course, of public health.”

    The letter proposes drawing inspiration from other regional cooperation structures to allow for increased freedom of movement between the countries, despite current measures.

    The ministers of the three countries are in contact with each other, but according to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin, it is still too early to reopen the borders. A further relaxation of the measures, which will include tourism, will not happen until 8 June, at the earliest.

    The model included is that of the Baltic States, where the three governments restored freedom of movement and abolished the compulsory 14-day quarantine for citizens of their countries after the contamination sufficiently fell.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times