Border closure in Poland: “We now need fast, pragmatic solutions instead of complete sealing off”.

Several EU member states control their external borders in the wake of the Corona crisis. Poland has introduced a 14-day quarantine period for citizens returning to the country. This also has an impact on Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where Polish workers are employed in the health sector and agriculture, among others. Commenting on the situation Dr. Hannah Neumann, Member of the Alliance 90/The Greens Group in the European Parliament:

“We urgently need each other, Germany and Poland. The closing of the border shows this clearly. Agriculture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is suffering as a result, as are many facilities for the care of the elderly and the sick. The quarantine period makes it difficult or even impossible for Polish workers to continue their work in Germany. They have to make a decision: They can either stay in Germany without knowing when they can see family or friends again, or they can return to Poland and forego their income. This compulsion does not comply with the requirements of the EU Commission.

Yesterday, the EU Commission published guidelines on how to guarantee the free movement of persons even during the Corona crisis. According to these guidelines, persons employed in systemically important areas should continue to be allowed to commute between two member states as smoothly as possible. Examples of systemically relevant areas are the health sector, but also – at harvest time – agriculture. Health checks can therefore be carried out as long as the Member States coordinate them among themselves and they remain proportionate.

I welcome the Commission’s guidelines – and call on the Polish Government to implement them quickly now. The many commuters who come from Poland to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania every day to work need a practicable solution and planning security. Hospitals, nursing homes, companies and agriculture in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are dependent on skilled and seasonal workers from Poland. It is precisely in such challenging times that we should support each other with mutual solidarity and not make everything more complicated by closing borders.

There is a lively exchange between Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Poland; for the people in the border regions, Europe is part of everyday life. Many friendships and family ties have developed over time. The current situation is a severe test of strength. That is why we now need quick, pragmatic solutions instead of complete isolation. Measures such as closed borders should be temporary.

The spirit of Europe is particularly evident in the many cross-border projects, meetings and initiatives. The European Union and the member states must therefore ensure that after the end of the Corona crisis Europe can grow together again in the border regions and that people can seamlessly return to their European everyday life”.

Further Information

From Poland, about 3400 people commute regularly to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to work. They work in various sectors, including health care and agriculture, but also in tourism. According to experts, thousands of seasonal workers will soon be missing in the state because of the corona crisis.

Under EU law, the introduction of temporary border controls is possible in certain exceptional situations, e.g. when it is necessary to maintain public order and the Member States notify the Commission of this. EU law allows border controls, but does not normally allow EU citizens to be refused entry. This is only the case in individual, well justified situations. The current situation at many internal borders in the EU is therefore not in conformity with European law. Due to the special situation of the Corona crisis, the Commission has decided not to take legal action against the Member States. However, it has issued regulations on how to deal with the de facto suspension of freedom of movement within the EU and to keep the damage as low as possible. The Commission clearly calls on the Member States to find at least one solution for cross-border commuters.

Contact for further questions or interview requests to Dr. Hannah Neumann:

Angelika Hild
Parliamentary Assistant
Phone number: (+49) 176 618 464 49

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