“The impression of being surrounded by countries which have a much higher incidence rate”

Germany is partially closing its borders with the Czech Republic and Austrian Tyrol in order to contain, according to Germany, the spread of highly contagious variants of the coronavirus. Hélène Miard-Delacroix, professor at Sorbonne University, specialist in contemporary Germany and Franco-German relations explains on franceinfo that Bavaria has “feeling surrounded by countries that have a much higher incidence rate“.

franceinfo: Why this decision?

It is in fact a decision of a Land, a region: Bavaria. And it’s the Bavarian head of government who really feels like he’s surrounded by countries that have a much higher incidence rate. The Czech Republic is 482. Germany has managed to go down to around 65. Bavaria has decided to control its borders. However, the authorities have only been able to turn back since Sunday morning about 500 people. It must be said that cross-border workers, Czechs and Poles, have good reasons to come. They help keep German businesses and services running.

Do the German Länders have the authority to close their borders?

Germany is a federal country, that’s the basic structure. That is to say that it is, first of all, the Länders who have the power. Then, they transmit a certain number of skills to the Federation which does not have many possibilities to give them orders. The decentralized and regionalized organization was even praised during the first wave, Germany had managed to stabilize its figures. On the other hand, during the second push, very strong across the Rhine, we spoke of cacophony to criticize this decentralization.

By closing its borders, can Germany go it alone in Europe?

This is a break with the Schengen agreements even if, in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, it is provided that exceptional conditions make it possible to temporarily put an end to the movement of people, services and goods. Like the closing of the borders with France, this is an authoritarian and unilateral decision that goes against the very spirit of our neighborhood cooperation and the attempts to act together within the European Union.

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