For their outstanding contributions to Franco-German solidarity during the pandemic, the air ambulance organisations DRF Luftrettung and Luxembourg Air Rescue (LAR) have been jointly awarded the 2020 Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize.
As soon as infection rates allow, the Prize will be presented by the two Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation, Michael Roth, Member of the German Bundestag and Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, and Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry.
Ministers of State Michael Roth and Clément Beaune issued the following statement about the recipients:
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Franco-German border region and the surrounding area very hard. At the peak of the crisis this spring, DRF Luftrettung and Luxembourg Air Rescue sent out a clear message of European solidarity and cross-border cooperation.
The two air ambulance services showed great professionalism and extraordinary personal dedication in challenging circumstances as they took on the majority of the helicopter flights needed to transport French patients to and from hospitals in Germany. Not only did they directly save lives, they also made a vital contribution to overcoming the health crisis and cementing the Franco-German friendship.
This kind of civic cross-border solidarity was particularly important at a time when people’s day-to-day lives in the border region were marked by great uncertainty and tensions. The work of the two air rescue organisations made it clear just how valuable the Franco-German friendship is. Europe is made strong when we can rely on one another and on mutual solidarity.
We are delighted to present the 2020 Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize to DRF Luftrettung and LAR as two organisations which embody our aspirations for Europe: tangible solidarity in action, cross-border collaboration and a strong, committed civil society.
Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Filderstadt, south-west Germany, DRF Luftrettung has over 50 helicopters and responds to more than 40,000 callouts each year, making it one of Europe’s largest air rescue organisations. At 14 of its 35 stations across Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, crews are on call around the clock; eight of the sites can dispatch helicopters with rescue hoists. DRF Luftrettung also uses its air ambulances to repatriate patients from abroad.
Luxembourg Air Rescue was founded in the late 1980s through a private initiative by committed individuals. It is now a mid-sized humanitarian enterprise with six rescue helicopters and six air ambulances. One of the helicopters is attached to the control centre in the German city of Trier under an agreement on cross-border air rescue between Luxembourg and the federal states of Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate. It carries out over 1000 missions each year on the German side of the border. For over 10 years, LAR has also used its air ambulances to carry out all organ transport within France, together with its French partner.
Both organisations are non-profit. In the spring of 2020, they carried out the majority of patient transports between the French region Grand Est and hospitals across Germany, in Luxembourg and even in Salzburg.
The French and German Governments created the Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize on 22 January 1988, the 25th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. It is awarded to individuals, initiatives or institutions which through their work have made an outstanding contribution towards strengthening the Franco-German friendship.
The Prize recalls the historic achievement of Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, who, with the signing of the Elysée Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation in 1963, provided decisive momentum for the process of reconciliation between the French and the German people and for cooperation between the two countries.
Furthermore, it is designed to recognise and promote active efforts on the part of the citizens of both countries to shape the Franco-German partnership and to provide a framework in which to further develop such commitment. The two Commissioners base their decision on the proposal presented by a Franco-German jury made up of figures from politics, culture, the media, academia and business reflecting the diversity of both societies. The winner of the prize receives 10,000 euros.
Previous winners include Patricia Kaas (1999), Ulrich Wickert (2000), Daniel Brühl (2004), arte (2013), the Franco-German Youth Office (2014), the hip-hop duo Zweierpasch (2018) and the NGO Une Terre Culturelle (2019).