Ambulances without Borders: towards sustainable cooperation between emergency services

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    Giulia Brustia
    13 February 2020 - updated 1 year ago
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Martin Unfried
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Martin Unfried - Municipality of Woensdrecht, NL

The Advice Case „ Ambulances without Borders: towards sustainable cooperation between emergency services“ submitted by the Municipality of Woensdrecht (NL-BE) under the initiative b-solutions was consulted by Martin Unfried, a specialist in cross-border legal issues. The objective was to better identify the obstacles that prevent access to emergency services in the cross-border region.

At the moment ambulances cannot cross the border due to the existence of different technical requirements and diverging standards concerning patients reimbursements.

As a result from the field analysis contucted, the expert concludes that the obstacle described by the applicant is mainly due to a lack of knowledge of the already existing legal tools regulating this matter. In particular, the “Decision M (2009)8 - revised by Decision M (2014)1- on cross-border emergency ambulance traffic” of the Benelux Treaty - already provides sound basis for cooperation in the field of emergency services between the two countries.

A solution is anyway proposed to facilitate the recognition of specialised Dutch hospitals by Belgian emergency medical services. To do so, Unfried suggests to introduce a tailor-made amendment to the current Benelux Treaty.

Essential would be also the creation of a permanent "ambulance coordination office" to raise awareness among the local citizens and professionals on the services available.


To read more on the case of the Municipality of Woensdrecht, please find Unfried’s report here.


The information here provided have been developed in the framework of b-solutions, an initiative of the European Comission’s DG REGIO managed by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).

The reports here included are the result of a consultation provided by legal/cross-border cooperation experts on obstacles of a legal or administrative nature– referred to as Advice Cases - selected in the framework of the II Call for Proposals of the initiative b-solutions.