Mayor Gloden, near the famous Schengen grapevines , Source: Municipality of Schengen

Michel Gloden: At the start of the pandemic, the Schengen agreement was ignored

Michel Gloden: At the start of the pandemic, the Schengen agreement was ignored

An interview with the mayor of Schengen in Luxembourg

Michel Gloden is the mayor of Schengen in Luxembourg. It is located near the border with Germany and France and naturally, like many border towns, sees a lot of cross-country travel.

25 years ago, it was the site where the Schengen Agreement was signed, abolishing border controls between the BENELUX countries, France and West Germany.

Mr Gloden, how would you describe the town of Schengen? What are the things that people tend to overlook?

Schengen has a lot to offer culturally besides a variety of wines. In addition to museums such as the Centre Européen, the folklore museum “A Possen” or the Valentiny Foundation, you can find peace and quiet in our nature reserve Haff Réimech and on the beach of the Baggerweier or benefit from countless hiking trails.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the landmark Schengen Agreement – an event that has arguably reshaped Europe. What would you say has changed for Schengen in that time?

At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the borders were closed. Such an important agreement was simply ignored... The Schengen Agreement is more important today than ever and that principle is what we are trying to live by here in Schengen.

[At the start of the pandemic, Germany decided to institute border checks, in violation of the agreement. The checks stayed up from March until June 2020.]

Considering the closures, did COVID-19 undo years of cross-border cooperation? How did you find a way out of the situation?

Together with the mayors of the neighbouring municipalities, we have politically campaigned against the border closures. Be it with actions or simply with a joint letter to the responsible persons. It was a very tense and exhausting time and unfortunately, the closure also destroyed many things. Nevertheless, we as neighbouring communities have always stuck together.

Despite the recent major rise in infections across the continent, eyes are set on the future. What does a post-Covid-recovery look like for Schengen, both in the short term and in the long term?

No one knows when the pandemic will finally be completely over. As a municipality, we have distributed masks to the population, offered free verified rapid tests, supplied our associations with disinfectants and adhered to the Corona measures so that the situation returns to normal as quickly as possible. I would like to thank all the residents, and especially the children, who have adhered to the measures and hope that we will soon be able to celebrate together again.

There are a lot of pressing issues for many regions in the EU right now - renewable energy, waste reduction and digitalisation, to name a few.  What is Schengen’s strategy when it comes to climate change?

The municipality of Schengen is a member of the “Climate Pact”. Hereby, we commit ourselves to do something for the environment, the climate and sustainable development every year.  A few weeks ago, we were awarded and received a lot of praise for the compost that we as a municipality produce with our waste and make available to the citizens free of charge.

In addition, our Fairtrade group ensures that we buy and consume locally-sourced and fair trade products.

As a member of myenergy Luxembourg, we regularly offer our citizens free advice from experts on how to build or renovate sustainably.

TheMayor.EU is a platform that shows the best practices from local governments. Could you share some of Schengen’s secrets for a well-run municipality?

It is important to listen to the people in the municipality. As mayor, being close to the citizens is extremely important to me. Of course, one's actions cannot always meet with 100% approval, but we do our best to act in the best interests of the majority.



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