Final Declaration of the AEBR Annual Confererence on "Cross-border labour market mobility - experiences, problems, challenges":



 

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Berlin Declaration

Cross Border Labour Market Mobility – experiences, problems, challenges

On 9th November 2012 the Annual Conference of the AEBR has been opened by Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz, AEBR President, Mr Walter Deffaa, Director General of DG Regio, Mr Uwe Schulz-Hofen, representative of the Senate of Berlin, Mr Henning Heidemanns, representative of the Land of Brandenburg and Ms Natalia Romanova, Chairperson of the Chamber of Regions, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

The topic of the Annual Conference is “Cross-Border Labour Market”, as this is the final conference of the project implemented by the AEBR during 2012 on experiences, problems and challenges related to this very important issue for European border and cross-border regions.

In fact, more than one third of the EU population, more than 200 million citizens plus those in neighbouring regions at the external borders of the EU, live in cross-border areas. Crossing the border to work or for leisure is part of their daily life. The possibility to work or employ personnel across borders opens new opportunities for employees and employers that benefit in manifold ways from the know-how and experiences of their neighbours. In particular cases, labour shortage in specific branches can be overcome, at least temporarily, through workers from the neighbouring country, especially if they cannot find adequate jobs in their own land. Moreover, taking into account demographic change and its expected negative impact on national labour markets, CBC can help to develop new and wider regional strategies.

Cross-border labour markets offer many additional opportunities, but the number of cross-border commuters could still significantly be higher. Due to difficult access to reliable information on the consequences of getting a job at the other side of the border and different languages, in many cases citizens in border areas do not take into account searching for a job in the neighbouring country. They fear that they would not have the same rights as at home, being the bureaucratic burden much higher. Moreover, there are still many practical obstacles to cross-border labour mobility that have not been solved yet, and which require much commitment and efforts by responsible public bodies. These obstacles are mainly related to differences between national social security and taxation systems, not always compatible. The European Commission has also fostered with its manifold initiatives the coordination of social security systems in the EU. In some cases, a clear legal framework was created in order to facilitate the mobility of workers within the EU. But in many others it is still not clear how to implement the European legal framework in practice. The responsible national bodies and administrations are usually not located at the border, and are consequently not sufficiently aware of the problems that frontier workers have to face. Consequently, the national regulations not always take adequately into account the circumstances of frontier workers, who often need “taylor-made” solutions for their special case.

Euroregions and other CBC structures can help to improve the information flows between citizens in border areas and national bodies and administrations dealing particularly with social security and taxation issues. In fact, in many border areas, specific cross-border networks and partnerships have been initiated to bring together all relevant stakeholders from both sides of the border in order to propose adequate solutions to mobility obstacles (eg. EURES T-networks or specific networks in euroregions dealing with cross-border labour market mobility). An important task of these cross-border networks and partnerships is also to provide all relevant information to employees and employers in border areas as regards working conditions, social security and taxation rules, job offers in the neighbouring country, bilingual vocational training and education as well as other targeted solutions to remaining barriers in the framework of infrastructure, public transport etc.. However, many difficulties and the tasks to solve them have to do with the national level. This is why national and European funding should contribute to overcome these obstacles.

This information can hardly be provided in a standardised form via internet, as the problems faced by frontier workers are very individual and constantly changing. Personalised advisory services are, accordingly, of particular importance for current and future frontier workers. They improve the accessibility of citizens to sometimes complex information, and in this way have a positive impact on cross-border labour mobility along European borders. They encourage labour mobility —however without idealising the reality— and promote the idea of cross-border labour market. Accordingly, these cross-border networks and their advisory services must be maintained and supported by the EU, but also by the regional and national governments. Information is a key element, when it comes to the promotion of labour mobility in Europe. Without the provision of reliable information to frontier workers and without the exchange of information between all relevant stakeholders it is difficult to achieve satisfactory results as regards the creation of a real cross-border labour market.  

In fact, cross-border labour market is both a challenge and an opportunity. It is a challenge, as there are still many prejudices and practical obstacles that usually cannot be solved at regional level, and have no priority at national level. But it is also an opportunity for employees, employers and public administrations in border areas to get to know new methods, approaches and ideas, to exchange know-how, and to find new ways in promoting entrepreneurship and growth. In any case, it is a basic brick of EU integration and, as such, it should be further facilitated and encouraged. These analyses can be also a source of inspiration for other integration processes outside the EU.



The Association of European Border Regions
Berlin, November 2012

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