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Good examples of national policies favouring cross-border cooperation in the Netherlands

In the Dutch House of Representatives ground-breaking policies have been released, where the needs of border regions have been well taken into consideration.

Relevant steps have been made with regard to fiscal policy affecting frontier workers on occasion of the General Meeting of the parliamentary committee on the Fiscal Position of Frontier Workers, which was held on 5 March 2020 in the House of Representatives. In particular, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment proposed to analyse bottlenecks around the border information points (BIPs), as well as to provide information on the tax implications Dutch citizens working in Germany are exposed to when being on parental leave. The State Secretary of Finance initiated an overview of the discoordination between the social security systems of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Furthermore, Mr Raymond Knops, Minister for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, in a letter to the House of Representatives addressed the progress of cross-border cooperation, looking in particular at border information points, the recognition of diplomas and the specific financial agreements to stimulate the different regions in the Netherlands, so called `Regiodeals´

The letter by Mr Knops has been object of the General Meeting of the parliamentary committee on Cross-border Cooperation, which was held in the House of Representatives on 4 March 2020. During the debate, Minister Knops said that the Netherlands cannot afford the impending impoverishment of the border regions: ‘We must look at the Netherlands in a different way, because not all roads lead to the Randstad conurbation. Growth will really have to take place in areas that are currently characterised by shrinkage or periphery’.

Concrete commitments were made during the debate: the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport will report about cross-border care, in concertation with North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. It has been decided that a report on the governance of bottlenecks and cross-border pipelines will be prepared before the summer of 2020.

In addition, during another debate in the House of Representatives in the same week, the position of the subject of German in schools in the border regions was discussed, addressing the concerns raised by the Dutch provinces located on the German border and voiced jointly with municipal councils from Germany. The Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media, Arie Slob, German will continue to be taught in primary and secondary education. The Ministry has proposed measures to strengthen the teaching of modern foreign languages, including for French and German. Mr Slob added: ‘If, in specific circumstances, you feel that perhaps because of your geographical situation more attention should be paid to a particular subject, then that space should simply be given’.

AEBR’s Dutch members have welcomed with enthusiasm the measures taken by the central government to facilitate cross-border cooperation. AEBR applauds this approach and wishes to see more national authorities adopting similar policies benefitting border regions and cross-border cooperation practices.

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