Merkel rages at Brussels: Germany refuses to reopen borders despite EU legal threat

Germany: Border closure 'highly problematic' says expert

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Berlin’s EU ambassador dismissed European Commission complaints over the measures introduced to stop the spread of mutant coronavirus strains. Michael Clauss said the tough border restrictions with Austria, France and the Czech Republic would continue as long as they’re needed. The closures have “become particularly necessary when less protective measures are taken in affected neighbouring regions with extremely high incidence rates,” he wrote to Commission director-general for justice Salla Saastamoinen.

Mr Clauss added: “At present, in the interest of protecting health, we must adhere to the measures taken at internal borders.”

Germany sparked fury in Brussels when it announced border closures with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region last month.

Similar measures have also been introduced on the country’s frontier with France’s eastern Moselle region.

Under the new rules, only Germans or non-German residents are allowed through the borders.

There are exceptions for key workers, in sectors such as health and haulage.

Everyone must provide a recent negative coronavirus test before being allowed to enter the country.

The Commission said the border closures had “gone too far” and risk “fragmentation and disruption to free movement and supply chains”.

Eurocrats wrote to Germany, and five other EU countries, urging them to reconsider their tough measures.

They ordered the European capitals to drop their border closures within 10 days or risk the complaint being escalated.

But Mr Clauss hit back, insisting the bloc’s recommendations are “good minimum standards” but deviations from the rules are necessary to protect health.

“This already follows from the wording and is also in the nature of a recommendation,” he added.

The top German diplomat lashed out at the Commission’s criticism of Berlin.

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He wrote: “Thank you for your letter dated February 22, which first reached me via the newswires.”

Germany is unlikely to lift its border measures amid fears that mutant Covid strains could trigger a third wave of infections in the country.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is already preparing to extend the national lockdown in a meeting with regional leaders.

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany went up by 3,943, according to figures released on Monday by the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

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The Chancellor decided coronavirus infections would have to fall to a seven-day average of 35 per 100,000 people before moving forward.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany currently has a rate of around 123.

The current infection figures remain high as Germany struggles to rollout Covid jabs across its population.

Its sluggish scheme has only delivered 6.39 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to around 7.42 percent of its population.

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