On 27 February 2020 AEBR organised a workshop on cross-border labour markets in cooperation with Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig. By sharing knowledge and exchanging best practices, AEBR brought together regional and local authorities from border regions of all over Europe to enhance cross-border labour mobility.
Mr Guillermo-Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions, opened the workshop emphasising the importance of improving the legal and administrative framework regulating cross-border employment in the European Union. According to Eurostat, there are 1.3 million frontier workers in the Union (data from 2018). In order to facilitate the mobility of European citizens across the borders, “more `European thinking´ is needed”, said Mr Guillermo-Ramírez. National boundaries are affecting very strongly the life of frontier workers because many aspects related to employment are ruled differently in each Member State, and when a person works in one EU Member State but lives in another, uncertainties arise. This is the case, for example, for social security and taxation issues.
In this context, AEBR and border regions have the task to deliver arguments to the European institutions to produce measures enhancing cross-border labour markets, alleviating the uncertain situation faced by European citizens in border region over 30 years after the creation of the Single Market.
In her welcoming words, Ms Simone Lange, Mayor of Flensburg, stated that the value of cross-border cooperation with the neighbouring region is crucial for a small region like Schleswig. To continue improving cooperation, the exchange of information on best practices with other European border regions is very important, and as such Sønderjylland – Schleswig is proud to be well integrated in a European network from which it can learn and improve its management of frontier workers.
Ms Anna Cinzia Dellagiacoma, project manager at AEBR, has illustrated the solutions to cross-border obstacles devised by participants in the project b-solutions in the field of employment. This is a pilot initiative promoted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and managed by AEBR to identify solutions to hurdles of a legal or administrative nature impeding cross-border cooperation’s practices along EU internal land borders. Started in 2018, through two calls for proposals nine obstacles have been identified in the framework of the initiative b-solutions. The most common issues in the thematic field of employment regard: completing an apprenticeship, having one’s skills and competences fully recognised, accessing job vacancies, recruiting staff, obtaining legal certainty on fiscal issues, securing full social security coverage, obtaining professional insurance for medical staff, complicated procedures to obtain professional certificates and information provision.
In the framework of b-solutions, a pilot action to allow pupils to complete an apprenticeship in any company in the border area, regardless of whether the company is based in France or in Belgium, has been implemented by the EGTC Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai (find more information here). The Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Employment Service of the Republic of Slovenia have tested a single tax declaration form which can be used both by Italian and Slovenian companies to overcome double taxation (here more information is available). The province of Limburg (NL) and the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia (DE) have produced a roadmap for the recognition of qualifications for highly demanded professions, informing citizens and facilitating thus cross-border employment (more information available here).
More solutions to obstacles impeding carrying out projects enhancing employment in border regions have been presented on the basis of the cases submitted by the province Oost-Vlaanderen and Euregio Scheldemond (BE/NL) on restrictions for staff management in cross-border facilities (find here the full report on the case), by the municipality Lazdijai District (LT) regarding the establishment and financing of a transnational business incubator (see full report here), by the Economic Board Arnhem-Nijmegen and the Euregio Rhein-Maas-Nord (DE/NL) on the integration of non-EU students in the labour market of the cross-border regions (the two reports are available, respectively, here and here), and by the Borderland Association “Nasza Suwalszczyzna” (PL/LT) on social and health insurance regulations for frontier workers (find here the full report).
Following the many ideas proposed in the framework of b-solutions, Mr Peter Hansen, director of the Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig, presented the initiative “Grenznetz”, a project started in 2009 to support cross-border labour market that has proven very successful. Initiated to solve obstacles of a legal nature arising in many border regions in Germany in the specific context of employment, Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig, EUREGIO, the Greater Region, Upper Rhein and Euregio Meuse-Rhine started “Grenznetz” with the objective of solving hindrances to labour mobility through legal consultancy. After 10 years of support to frontier workers, “Grenznetz” continues performing an essential role in many German border regions.
Mr Hansen also addressed the A1 certificates issue, a form introduced by the Posted Worker Directive to certify social security situation of employees when moving within the EU which is actually posing new threats to frontier workers in some border regions. Clarifications are requested by border regions to resolve the uncertainties caused by the certificate.
Acknowledging the urgency to resolve this situation, Mr Guillermo-Ramírez stressed the important role of entrepreneurs in border regions. It is fundamental for border regions to be attractive for enterprises, securing jobs to citizens. Many are the initiatives to facilitate cooperation with the neighbouring regions, favouring the establishment of cross-border businesses, and AEBR intends to give them more visibility and to foster mutual learning and capacity building. In this context, Mr Vasilios Apostolopoulos, director of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce and Industry, illustrated how the Union has digitalised many of its services in order to provide support to entrepreneurs in remote regions and enhance business equally over the whole territory.
Other topics discussed by the participants was the need to focus available skills and opportunities in border regions establishing a dialogue between the public and the private sectors on vocational training, and the need to support SMEs in border regions.
The workshop offered a platform to exchange knowledge among regional and local authorities from all over Europe, showing a concrete effort to foster cross-border employment within the Single Market.
Some documents of interest:
AEBR, Information Services for Cross-Border Workers in European Border Regions, Gronau, 2012, Final Report available in DE, EN, FR and PL:
AEBR Task Force CB Labour Market, Mapping CB Labour Market (draft), 2015
European Commission, 2018 Annual Report on intra-EU Labour Mobility, DG Employment, 2019
ESPON, Addressing labour migration challenges in Europe. An enhanced functional approach. Policy Brief, Luxembourg, 2019
European Parliament, EMPL Committee, Employment barriers in border regions. Strategies and EU funding, Brussels, January 2019
Greater Region’s Interregional Labour Market Observatory, Die Arbeitsmarktsituation in der Großregion. 11. Bericht der Interregionalen Arbeitsmarktbeobachtungsstelle an den 16. Gipfel der Executiven der Großregion, Saarbrücken, January 2019
Interact Expert Study, Cross-border and transnational labour market integration, January 2015
Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, Grenzüberschreitende Zusammenarbeit in der beruflichen Bildung: Beispiele guter Praxis an deutschen Außengrenzen, Leipzig, 29.09.2014
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