Thursday, February 25, 2021

Mayors of Alto Minho and Galicia ask for meeting to close borders

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Nuno Veiga / Lusa

The mayors of the 26 Portuguese and Galician municipalities of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) Rio Minho requested this Monday an “urgent” meeting with the Minister of Internal Administration, in view of the closing of crossing points between Portugal and Spain.

In a statement, after a meeting that brought together the mayors who are part of that group, they warn that they had decided to “support the mobilization of economic and social agents for the immediate carrying out of symbolic actions of protest against the conditions of closure of border crossing points between the Alto Minho and Galicia ”.

They also call for other measures against what they consider to be an “inflexible position of the Governments of Portugal and Spain”, which you are “Punish” workers cross-border and freight transport.

The Rio Minho EGTC pointed out “the immediate integration of cross-border workers as beneficiaries of the socio-economic mechanisms / support approved by the Governments of Portugal and Spain to face the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, and that companies harmed by border closures equally eligible under their own recovery mechanisms ”.

The Portuguese and Galician authorities have also decided to “request political and economic assistance from the European Commission, since it is considered that one of the main pillars of the European Union is being called into question: Europe without borders and collect one dossier with real testimonies, of lives and businesses seriously affected by this measure, and refer to the Governments of Portugal and Spain ”.

On Friday, the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI) informed that the control of people at the borders between Portugal and Spain will continue until March 1 due to the pandemic, and as of Monday there will be two more Authorized Passages (PPA), in Melgaço and Montalegre.

There are seven authorized crossing points that operate 24 hours a day throughout the week, namely Valença, Vila Verde da Raia, Quintanilha, Vilar Formoso, Caia, Vila Verde de Ficalho and Castro Marim.

The Marvão PPA is open on working days from 6 am to 8 pm and the authorized ticket points in Monção, Melgaço and Montalegre are open on working days from 6 am to 9 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm.

“With this renewal of border closure, Governments reiterate the unwillingness to bear the costs of having more controlled authorized crossing points, wanting to transfer a large part of this burden to cross-border workers. In this sense, we reiterate that should be the states to bear these expenses and that should immediately start a financial compensation for companies and cross-border workers who are suffering the consequences of this measure ”, maintains the EGTC Rio Minho.

The European grouping recalls that the municipalities on the border between Alto Minho and Galicia, “have always expressed their willingness to collaborate with logistical support in opening of new crossing points crossing borders ”.

“Excessive inspection (in addition to proof of being a cross-border worker), which is currently being carried out at authorized crossing points, is contributing, on the one hand, to an unnecessary delay at the moment of crossing and, on the other hand, for a psychological and social discomfort that this territory has not lived for more than 30 years ”, he observes.

Headquartered in Valença, the EGTC Rio Minho covers 26 municipalities: the 10 municipalities in the Viana do Castelo district that make up the Alto Minho Intermunicipal Community (CIM) and 16 Galician municipalities in the province of Pontevedra.

The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,400,543 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 108.7 million cases of infection, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.

In Portugal, 15,411 people died from 787,059 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

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Mayors of Alto Minho and Galicia ask for meeting to close borders