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Case number 100 of b-solutions: working from home across borders

The Covid 19 pandemic has modified our way of working and home office has developed dramatically all over the world, including in border regions. Looking at the impact it has on cross-border workers appears to be all the more so important as it is an ongoing challenge: as the workplace is transferred from the State of employment to the State of residence, uncertainties as for where taxes are due arise. With consequences leading to complications for workers and employers, regulations on home office might hinder the free movement of workers in border regions.

Addressing a major issue to create integrated labour cross-border markets, the 100th case selected within the b-solutions initiative looks for solutions that are of key importance to provide real input in the further development of cross-border regions.

The b-solutions initiative offers support to solve obstacles of legal or administrative nature which hinder cross-border cooperation and the development of an integrated cross-border labour market.

In 2022, two new calls for proposals were opened to identify further cases of cross-border obstacles to the 90 already collected.

In this framework, AEBR and DG REGIO recently selected the case “Working from home across borders”, which was the 100th case selected trough b-solutions’ calls for proposals.

This case was submitted by Openbaar Lichaam Eurode and focuses on the consequences of the lack of a regulatory framework on home office for cross-border workers along the Belgium-Dutch-German border.  As such, the application aims to continue the work already started in the region in 2021 thanks to the analysis requested at the time by GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode, also through participating in b-solutions.

Cor Chudy from the municipality of Kerkrade (NL) and Kylian Cruts from Openbaar Lichaam Eurode explain how there is still a lot of uncertainty for both employees and employers when people work in one country and live in another one because of different regulations on social security and taxes for cross-border workers. “These lead to an enormous increase in the administrative burden for those involved”, they claim.

The uncertainty is due to the current absence of regulations on the matter, following the end of temporary measures in place between 2020 and 2022.

For the territories of the border regions of South-Limburg in the Netherlands, North-Rhine Westphalia in Germany and the Belgian provinces of Limburg and Liège, national governments set up extraordinary measures which were necessary to cope with the situation brought up by the pandemic”, inform Cor Chudy and Kylian Cruts. “These included laws on social security as well as on taxation. For example, workers were registered in the social security system where they were registered before the pandemic, in spite of where the person actually works. Fiscally, home office days could be treated as days worked in the country where the cross-border worker would have worked under normal circumstances, provided that these home working days were taxed in the other country” they continue. However, both agreements expired in 2022 and have not been extended.

Therefore, solutions are still needed. Openbaar Lichaam Eurode along with GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode, another key actor of the border region which has already participated in b-solutions, will collaborate under this new phase of the initiative. Experts will support the implementation of the two cases, building upon the solutions identified in the analysis of GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode’s case and including new elements coming from Openbaar Lichaam Eurode’s application.

Openbaar Lichaam Eurode looks forward to the implementation of solutions.  “If working from home becomes possible for cross-border workers, this means, on the one hand, the phasing out of an annoying obstacle in many ways that seriously impedes ‘freedom of labour’. On the other hand, this is another step closer to developing a true, Euregional labour market with prospects for everyone”, say Cor Chudy and Kylian Cruts.

The phase of support of the solution’s implementation has just started, and progress on b-solutions’ case number 100 is expected to be visible in the next months.

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