Ursula is keeping Europe alive, or at least she is trying
During the past few weeks, multiple European governments have closed their borders to prevent Covid-19 from spreading into their respective territories. Those are…interesting…ideas I must say. Apart from the fact that all European countries have cases of Covid-19 inside their borders already, these border shutdowns not only stop people from moving freely but also goods. This has caused traffic jams as long as 70 kilometres at the German-Polish border and up to 100 kilometres at the Austrian-German border. Other measures of solidarity by France and Germany included blocking exports of masks, vital to combating the Coronavirus, to their neighbours. These two countries, very good at being solitary with themselves, have been pursuing nationalist approaches over European solutions. Ironic one might say…didn’t they call for more Europe no less than two months ago? Ursula von der Leyen, a self-proclaimed European at heart, must be suffering. Her best European buddy Macron has been treating the EU like Orban in the past.
Today, Ursula stepped out and talked to the world, on Twitter of course. Issuing guidelines to remind everyone that this European idea we have is not on Corona vacation as everyone else but in fact, still alive. Her guidelines included:
1. No border crossing should take more than 15 minutes. That is ambitious, how are people going to drive around the 70 kilometres of traffic? Measuring temperatures, showing papers justifying the border crossing and singing Ode to the Joy in only 15 minutes? But this only applies to green lanes.
2. Green lanes. What are the green lanes you might ask? Well, they are only open to vehicles carrying goods, not people. This makes sense, but, as nobody is allowed to leave their house anymore, aren’t all lanes green lanes?
3. Suspension of guidelines. What Ursula means with this is the suspension of guidelines restricting truck drivers from driving during nights or on the weekends. That allows traffic to spread more evenly. This point is so straightforward and correct that even I cannot come up with a joke to turn it absurd.
4. Reduction of paperwork. Ursula does not really clarify this point in her statement, which leaves room to interpretation and, therefore, abuse if you ask me. Will drivers go above their limits of hours they are allowed to drive? Will companies exploit truck drivers even more? Also, with all restaurants closing, where are they supposed to eat something? The very strict measures against Covid-19 are hitting the poorest the hardest. Truck drivers amongst them.
Jokes aside, in order to not entirely destroy supply chains in Europe it is essential that goods can flow quickly and freely. But will the government adopt these guidelines? Germany and France proved yesterday that the European spirit is not entirely dead within them. As the infections have hit the Alsace region in France hard, Germany offered hospital beds in nearby regions to take away some pressure from hospitals in France working tirelessly. The coming days will show whether Ursula’s guidelines will have positive effects on the borders. All we need to do is sit at home and listen to the radio’s traffic news.