Cross-Border Data: A Hype or a Real Need? :

Thoughts by Doede Sijtsma, representative of Province Gelderland , The Netherlands


Discussions about the need of cross-border data are taking higher and higher volumes. The main reasoning is that without an availability of cross-border data, cross-border regions are unable to make administrative decisions. But is it really so?

I believe that the actual need for the cross-border data depends on the permeability of the border, i.e. if the permeability of the border is high, there is a need for reliable cross-border data. An example in here is water. Water knows no border, so there is a clear need for reliable cross- border data both in issues on water quantity and water quality.

However, the permeability can differ over the cross-border subsystems. This means that in case there are basically two different subsystems on the two sides of the border, policy on one side of the border has no effects on the other side of the border. In those cases, there is no real need for cross-border data. For example, in the border area between the Netherlands and Germany, people move from the Netherlands to Germany, but most of them still acquires an income in the Netherlands. My idea is that the border in the subsystems has different effects and that in fact the ‘housingborder’ is more permeable than the ‘labourmarketborder’.

To decide whether you need to invest in the development of cross-border data, depends on the permeability of the border. This can have different effects on the kind of policy you can develop in a cross-border context. If the border is more or less open, policy effects on one side of the border will have effects on the other side of the border (higher fuel prices on one side of the border, stimulate to cross the border to fill up your car). But if the border is more closed (time consuming controls on the border) or the distance is larger, the effects will disappear.

There are several options for policymaking in cross-border regions without cross-border data:

- Policymakers can look for the bricks that build the border in the subsystems they are working on and could try to lower the impact, without necessarily a direct need for cross-border data;

- Policymakers can learn from the policy measure taken at the other side of the border, but also here there is not a real need for cross-border data:

- Parallel strategies, adapted to the needs and possibilities that are available on a local scale.

However, if we are in a joint system and we want a joint strategy, than there could be a good reason to work on and invest in the availability of cross-border data.

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