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“A daily Covid test for 16,000 border workers, it’s impossible,” annoys MP Christophe Arend

“A daily test for 16 000 frontier workers, it’s impossible “, got annoyed on Sunday 28 February on franceinfo Christophe Arend, deputy La République en Marche de la Moselle. Germany has just classified the Moselle as a “high risk zone”, which in theory implies that Mosellans entering German territory will have to present a negative test of less than 24 hours, including frontier workers.

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MP Christophe Arend denounces a decision “brusque” and calls for an arrangement for frontier workers with “an antigen test every 48 hours”. As co-chairman of the bureau of the Franco-German parliamentary assembly, he asked for the convening on Monday of a “cross-border cooperation committee to discuss the modalities of application”.

franceinfo: Are you on the same wavelength as the Secretary of State for European Affairs who considers this German decision “very regrettable”?

Christophe Arend : Absolutely. I am the co-president of the Franco-German parliament. We have, with my German counterpart Andreas Jung, asked that a cross-border cooperation committee be convened from tomorrow to discuss the modalities of application. It’s simple: a PCR test for 16,000 cross-border workers every day, that’s 80 000 tests, it is impossible. The Moselle already tests three times more on average than Germany. As a reminder, France tests on average twice as much as Germany.

Where are the discussions at? What exactly are you asking for?

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Our demands among local actors are clear, both from the point of view of the border Saar and East Moselle: the first thing is to accept an antigen test every 48 hours for frontier workers. Apart from that, it is necessary to take into consideration the schoolchildren who reside in France and who are educated in Germany, the students of 30 Franco-German university courses who, as of tomorrow, must take again the courses in Germany, who are no longer guaranteed of be able to go to class at the university.

“I consider that there are daily between 30,000 and 40,000 people who easily cross these borders for everyday acts.”

Christophe Arend

to franceinfo

You have families living on both sides, with young people on one side and seniors who must be helped on the other side, there is the problem of caregivers. This border is not a natural border it is an artificial line on a map. It is a basin which is materialized by a European grouping of cross-border cooperation which is the Eurodistrict SaarMoselle, which comprises 600 000 inhabitants, including 300 000 France and 300 000 in Germany, in direct urban continuity.

In this context, how do you explain this decision to impose PCR tests at the border? She comes from Berlin and not from the Land of Saarland ?

This decision comes from Berlin. France tried Thursday in a press release to toughen measures in Moselle to give assurances to Berlin. Berlin did not consider them sufficient. After a week of bitter discussions, they still classify us in variant territory, the highest level of risk. It is incomprehensible, this decision was very abrupt Friday evening.

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Yet is it true that Moselle is one of the departments where the virus is developing the most?

On this point, I ask the French authorities to provide us with figures for the catchment area by living area. Because the Moselle is a department with a million inhabitants. There are three basins : la Moselle-Est in urban continuity with Germany, the Metz-Thionville train path in urban continuity with Luxembourg, and the rather rural South Moselle. And there is no urban continuity between these three areas of life.

I officially demand the intercommunal figures by intercommunality so that we can arrive at a fine management of this crisis. Today we absolutely have to think in terms of areas of life. Berlin and Paris are on two diametrically opposed strategies, things are colliding head-on in border areas and the inhabitants of this living area must suffer this double penalty of the health crisis and no longer being able to go about everyday actions, indispensable.

If no agreement is found on the tests, how will things be for the cross-border workers?

If no agreement is reached, from midnight tomorrow evening we will find ourselves in the situation of last spring where the 39 authorized crossing points between the Moselle and the Saar cannot be effectively controlled by the German security forces. since they are insufficient. We will first have to bring in reinforcements from all over Germany who do not know the territory and, secondly, automatically close authorized crossing points because Berlin cannot make sufficient forces available to control all these crossing points.

I will just remind you that German Interior Minister Hort Seehofer, during a hearing before the Franco-German parliamentary assembly on May 28, pledged not to repeat this type of scenario again. We already have today 15 000 citizens across the Franco-German border, from Luxembourg to Switzerland, who are on short-time work with half of their earnings. If tomorrow, the 16 000 Mosellans who pass can no longer cross to the other side, you can well imagine the economic disaster, these are all severely impacted families.

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