Overview of the effects of the implementation of an A1 Certificate and AEBR President’s press release on the A1 Certificate, 15 July 2019 (summary):



 

In the last months, some AEBR members and friends have raised the issue of the A1 Certificate, a requirement by the Posted Workers’ Directive which asks for an official certificate for people crossing the border on duty. For those doing so from time to time it is just another obstacle, but for those crossing the border on a regular basis due to their cross-border commitments, it can be a nightmare. On the other hand, those not fulfilling this request can face important economic punishments.

Hans-Günther Clev, Director of Future Region West Palatinate, Regional Ministry of Interior (Rhineland-Palatinate) and active participant in the Upper Rhine Conference, reminded us the following absurdity on the use of A1 certificate for people crossing the border on duty:

“ I am very annoyed by the excesses of the so-called Posted Workers Directive, which makes it much more difficult for people involved in cross-border cooperation to live and cooperate. I and all others who travel across the border to meet the neighbours, in addition to the already time-consuming (abroad) business travel form, we now have to fill out this in my view completely meaningless A1 certificate and send it, via the employer, to the pensions insurance. Since these are completely overwhelmed and overloaded and can never send a certificate back in time, we must carry the application in copy, plus another copy of the transmission protocol of the fax machine (!) to confirm that this has been submitted. Otherwise, in case of a control abroad, we risk severe penalties. The electronic transmission required from 1/7/2019 does not work at all, so that further fines are imminent.

Seriously, this bureaucracy scares off the last dedicated actors of cooperation, wringing out the last convinced Europeans. This is more damaging than all Eurosceptics together. And it's water on their mills. The paperwork that we are now being asked makes the Schengen Agreement an absurdity. Even in the 1950s, only a fraction of the paperwork was needed. I compared it to the documents required those days. And that is progress?

I would like to suggest you as representative of AEBR that border regions approach the EU and protest officially against this. It cannot be that the most dedicated actors who fight for Europe for decades are now put a spoke in their wheel (are prevented from working). A guideline leading to such consequences cannot be more counterproductive than this one. Why use millions of euros to promote cooperation through Interreg if cooperation is massively obstructed at the same time?

I would be grateful to you if you took this up and discussed it.”

A debate followed during AEBR Executive Committee meeting in Szczecin on 12 July 2019, and there has been a further contribution by AEBR President. You can find a summary of this contribution below:

 

AEBR President’s press release on the A1 Certificate, 15 July 2019 (summary):

The original work of border regions encounters bureaucratic hurdles.

From the European regulations on the coordination of social security and the directives on posted workers to other Member States it follows that workers must carry a so-called A1 certificate when they exercise activities in a foreign country.

The aim of the certificate is to maintain control over the correct social protection of employees, defining clearly the responsibility for the social security of the employees abroad and at the same time providing relevant information to the workers. Both these intentions are reckoned as positive and the bureaucratic burden they cause is usually manageable and affordable. However, in border regions, where short-term - almost spontaneous - work assignments are often daily normality, the effort can exceed the benefits.

Actors of cross-border cooperation cross the border to the neighbouring country in order to carry out their tasks regularly, sometimes several times a day, to attend meetings and conferences, organise workshops, plan and hold events, or give lectures. Mobility and flexibility are essential for actors of cross-border cooperation: they must be able to flexibly cross the border as often and for a longer period of time as their tasks require. This must be as simple as possible to carry out, without administrative requirements for detailed planning.

The main aspects to take into consideration on the A1 certificates are following ones:

- there are different templates to apply for the A1 certificates, which depend on the activities to be carried out by the employee;

- the additional administrative work needed to request an A1 certificate is such that it threatens the core work of cross-border actors;

- employees may be subject to the so-called civil service regulation, which adds another administrative procedure to be taken care of by an additional authority;

- the ensuing limitation of mobility and its bureaucratization may develop into a dissatisfaction with the EU;

- the changes in the regulations under discussion could bring relief to the actors of cross-border cooperation, but the work is very diverse. Therefore, a formal "exemption from business trips" alone is not enough. Here it may be helpful to focus on the non-profit making intent and to recognize the non-profit background as an exception.

Cross-border cooperation requires pragmatic solutions. With regard to the A1 certificate, a way to ensure cooperation continuing to be made while controlling the correct social protection of employees, this should be submitted by the national authorities to the staff of organisations involved in CBC and be valid for more than just a specific work assignment. Similarly, the certificate should be valid for a longer period, at least one year, to keep the bureaucratic effort low. For actors who employ border commuters or employees who fall under the civil service rules, a bilateral agreement in accordance with article 16 of Regulation 883/04 will be helpful to these categories of persons.

In order to be able to solve the problems described in a sustainable and uncomplicated way, clear instructions from European or national level are required. In addition to clear rules, the competent authorities at all levels must be informed about requirements, procedures and consequences relating to the A1 certificate. Authorities must be made aware of the needs of cross-border regions, as it is precisely the actors of cross-border cooperation who are most affected.

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