German border controls provoke anger from neighbouring countries
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German border controls provoke anger from neighbouring countries

Credit: Belga

Germany has drawn the ire of its neighbouring countries with the checks it introduced at its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria on Sunday.

Germany imposed an entry ban at its borders with the Czech Republic and the Austrian region of Tyrol on Sunday, as it is concerned about variants of the coronavirus in those areas.

An exception has been made for workers from key sectors who need to cross the border, but the controls immediately caused long queues at the Czech-German border.

Since the South African coronavirus variant is on the rise in the Moselle region of France, the Germans are considering starting checks at the French border in the coming days.

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“I do not want Germany to close its border completely,” said Clément Beaune, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, reports Belga. “But if it does come to that, I hope for the broadest possible exemptions.”

France’s main concerns are the continuation of freight traffic and the free movement of border workers.

Austria, on the other hand, fears that lorries coming from Italy and going to Germany via Austria will get stuck on its territory. For this reason, it in turn checks at the border with Italy that lorries in transit have the required documents – which has led to congestion on the Italian side of the border.

The European Commission will send a letter to all Member States reminding them of the agreements they themselves made: that non-essential trips should be discouraged as much as possible, but that freight traffic and other international traffic should not be hindered.

The Commission is also upset about the Belgian ban on tourist trips, adding that it is concerned about the “proportionality” of the measure.

The issue will be discussed at the meeting of European Affairs Ministers on Tuesday 23 February.

The Brussels Times