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Residents of the Ems-Dollard region discuss the impact of COVID-19

13 April 2021

The University of Groningen, in collaboration with German partners from Jade University of Applied Sciences and the University of Vechta, is launching a project on the impact of COVID-19 on the daily lives of people living in the German-Dutch border region. Virtual meetings will be organized, during which residents will have the opportunity to exchange their opinions. They will discuss both the impact of the pandemic as well as lessons to be learned. The goal is to come up with recommendations to improve crisis management and to communicate these to stakeholders from politics, the business community and society.

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed our lives, and has had a drastic impact on our social and professional lives and the economy. In particular, people living in border regions face major challenges. Travel restrictions, quarantine regulations and, in some cases, very different rules for checks make cross-border exchanges and regional cooperation particularly difficult. On the other hand, there is also an opportunity to learn from successful initiatives and measures taken by other residents in the border region and thus to better manage the crisis.

Sessions on education, health, the economy and social life

To shed light on the impact on everyday life, Jade University of Applied Sciences and the Universities of Groningen and Vechta are organizing virtual round-table discussions for residents in the Ems-Dollard region. These sessions cover various topics, such as education and training, employment, social life and the way in which healthcare providers and small to medium-sized enterprises in the region are dealing with COVID-19.

Cultural differences in crisis management

Project leader Prof. Michael Klafft from Jade University of Applied Sciences explains the importance of the project: “The aim of our project is to work with citizens to help improve the way in which the crisis is handled in the border region and therefore also to be prepared for future pandemics.” Saskia Visser from the University of Groningen, expert in the field of citizen participation, adds: “We are also interested in finding out whether there are any cultural differences when it comes to crisis management in addition to the different administrative measures.”

Science Café on the results

“The results of these sessions will be summarized and discussed with decision-makers from politics and the business community in the form of a Science Café,” says Dr Daniel Ludwig, head of the Science Shop at the University of Vechta. Barbara Grabkowsky, head of the coordination centre for transformation of regions with intensive agriculture, adds: “Societal challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic do not stop at borders. So, these meetings are an important contribution towards living and working in the cross-border region in the future.”

Do you live in the Ems-Dollard region and are you interested in taking part in the virtual citizens’ round-table discussions? Please contact

In particular, participants are still being sought for the following sessions:
• Education (20 April, 4 pm)
• Social life (4 May, 4 pm)
• Health risks and healthcare (11 May, 4 pm)
• The local economy (18 May 2021, 4 pm)
• Work (25 May, 4 pm)

The Virtual citizens’ round-table discussions on COVID-19 project is co-financed by the INTERREG VA Programme Germany-Netherlands with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen, and the state of Lower Saxony.

More information

Saskia Visser,

Last modified:14 April 2021 1.32 p.m.
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