Cross-border cooperation during a cross-border pandemic

21 January 2022

Not out of possibility, but out of necessity


The last couple of weeks of 2021 were dominated by the cross-border nature of the COVID-19 crisis, and the fight against it. While the Netherlands went into the holiday season under a lockdown, complete closures were largely absent in Germany and Belgium. This leads to so-called cross-border effects, where people move, like a waterbed, to the neighbouring countries to enjoy eating and drinking out, as well as shopping. In response, the governments of the Netherlands, Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia urged people not to visit the neighbouring countries if it they do not need to.[1] It is not the first time, as it has been the case a few times during the past two years of COVID-19. Also in 2020 just before the holiday season. An ultimate emergency measure was the Belgian border closure, after the events were the other way around, with many Belgian residents coming to enjoy the possibilities in the Netherlands. 

ITEM analyses show how cross-border cooperation fell short during COVID-19, with critical consequences for the border region where commuting to other countries is a daily phenomenon. After all, especially there, measures taken at the national level clash with each other and create friction.