The decision by Belgian authorities to allow people to cross the border with neighbouring countries to visit their loved ones has turned out to have taken some of them by surprise. While Belgians trying to cross into France were turned back, Dutch mayors were not amused.
The confusion came after Belgium’s interior minister Pieter De Crem announced ahead of the long weekend that the government had decided to allow citizens to cross into Germany, the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg for the purposes of visiting family.
On Saturday afternoon, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified that the relaxation does not apply to France. In France, only essential travel is still allowed and it is necessary to have a certificate for international travel, which the government aims to reopen in mid-June.
According to Belgian media reports, many Belgians were returned at the French border.
“As we have always said, our borders will not open until June 15. Certainly, the Belgians have opened their borders, but that is not yet the case in France,” the French interior ministry confirmed to RTL.
However, the cabinet of De Crem said they were surprised by the confusion in neighboring countries. “Everything has been discussed with the countries involved,” the spokesman for the minister emphasised in a statement to Belgian media. “The Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus was well informed: he even sent a tweet about this on Friday evening.”
Mooi dat de Nederlands-Belgische grens weer open gaat voor familiebezoek. Dat is een steun voor het hart!
Hierover de laatste weken veelvuldig contact gehad met mijn Belgische collega. Hij bracht me net dit goede nieuws. Veel dank @pieterdecrem https://t.co/QVBSZEswBK
— Ferd Grapperhaus (@ferdgrapperhaus) May 29, 2020
(Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)