The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the “common destiny” of Switzerland and European Union countries, which must now continue working together, say the French and German ambassadors to Bern.
After tensions in the early days of the crisis when each state took its own national emergency measures, Switzerland, Germany and France have developed “admirable solidarity”, write French ambassador Frédéric Journès and German ambassador Norbert Riedel in a joint piece published on Friday in the Tages Anzeiger and Le Temps newspapers.
They cite as examples Swiss and German hospitals taking coronavirus patients from France, and also the cooperation on repatriating stranded citizens from around the world. Swiss nationals have been flown home on French and German flights and vice versa.
This cooperation must now be maintained to get economic life back on track, the ambassadors says, urging a “coordinated reopening of borders”. Their message broadly reflects the view given by Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis last month.
“This exceptional period reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all Europeans,” they write. “The European response to this crisis, whether critics like it or not, is unprecedented. Never before has the [European] Union mobilised such considerable resources in just a few weeks. And never before have we become so aware of the importance of our common values, in particular respect for individual freedom and the rule of law.”
This week the ministers of justice and home affairs of Europe’s Schengen states agreed unanimously on a coordinated step-by-step lifting of travel restrictions while reaffirming the priority of protecting citizens against the virus.
“Initially, the progressive reopening of Europe’s internal frontiers must take place. Only after that will a step-by-step reopening of the Schengen external borders be possible to allow the entry of people from third states,” the Swiss justice ministry said in a statementexternal link.