According to the Communication COM(2017) 534 final of the European Commission “Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions“ labor mobility is the most important area directly affected by border obstacles. These hurdles have negative impacts especially on frontier commuters and they usually relate to a lack of cooperation between public employment services in border regions; difficulties in accessing general information and vacancies in the cross-border labour market; the recognition of diplomas and skills; taxation, social security and pension rights issues.
In the course of the first phase of b-solutions, 9 different obstacles have been identified under the thematic area of “Employment” and solutions to them have been proposed or, in some cases, already implemented. More details on the hurdles and on the relative solutions are available on the final compendium that the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) have elaborated in cooperation with the European Commission’s Border Focal Point at DG REGIO.
In 2020, the third call for proposals of the initiative led to the selection of 5 more obstacles to cross-border employment. All of them have been submitted by European Groupings of Territorial Organisations (EGTCs) and Euroregions that involve 7 different Member States and 4 border sections. They address problems concerning the coordination between different social security systems, the validation of certain professions by the neighboring country and the adaptation of “vocational training” experiences to the cross-border context.
Below, a short description of the selected cases.
In case you face similar problems in your border region(s), keep in mind that a 4th call for proposals of b-solutions to advise more obstacles will be opened at the beginning of 2021!
Cross-border staffing difficulties – ambiguous application of social and health insurance regulations
The Ister-Granum EGTC is a cross-border structure registered in Hungary and it employs people living in Hungary and in Slovakia alike. However, staff members residing in Slovakia face uncertainties if they have extra financial working activities in their country, beyond their regular employment at the EGTCs.
European laws (Regulation EC 883/2004) supervised such cases with the introduction of Certificate A1. Yet, different social security systems and diverging interpretations of the regulation lead to inconsistencies of the administrative procedures for managing the certificate. This can result in financial losses for frontier workers and double work.
This problem has a negative impact on thousands frontier workers along the same border, as well as on the personnel of the other 12 European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) therein located. Therefore, a solution would foster a more integrated cross- border system of employment and it could also serve as a model for other EU border regions where these issues are identified.
KOMPAR - Promoting employability in the health & social sector
EGTC Euroregion Nouvelle-Aquitaine Euskadi Navarra
The EGTC Euroregion Nouvelle-Aquitaine Euskadi Navarra co-finances the vocational training working community KOMPAR which aims at promoting the cross-border training and employment of young professionals in the health and social sector.
Notwithstanding the common education received through this platform, students are prevented from carrying out working experiences in the neighboring country because the qualifications acquired in the country of origin are not recognised in the receiving country. The lack of recognition of some qualification brings about administrative burdens for the validation and regulation of professions within the cross-border vocational training system.
The removal of these hurdles would increase the employability of citizens in the cross-border region and would improve the overall coordination of the institutions involved in training provisions also in other regions along the French-Spanish and on other borders of the two countries.
Making cross-border internship worthy
EGTC Linieland van Waas en Hulst (in cooperation with Euregion Scheldemond)
The EGTC Linieland van Waas en Hulst at the Dutch-Belgian border would like to take action to promote dual learning and vocational trainings as tools to attract students to work in the cross-border context of the Port of Antwerp – where there is an increasing need for young and skilled technical professionals.
The current legal and administrative provisions on social security in the two countries pose some limits to the full implementation of an integrated traineeship system, as they do not take into consideration neither the cross-border dimension nor the “vocational trainer” status of the potential workers.
Removing these obstacles would improve the attractiveness of job opportunities offered in the territory of the EGTC but also in other regions along the entire Dutch-Belgian border where the solution could have a good replicability potential.
The problem of the children's sickness certificate for frontier workers working in Germany and residing in the Netherlands
Frontier workers residing in the Netherlands and working in Germany face difficulties in obtaining the so-called “children benefit” – a financial compensation that is granted when parents need to take some working days off because their children are sick. This happens because regulations on sick leaves differ in the two Member States.
Facilitating the access to such kind of benefit might be an incentive for local citizens to work in the neighboring country with an overall positive impact on the cross-border interactions and on the economic growth of the region. Furthermore, a solution to this case could be replicated in other sections of the same boundary and in other countries bordering Germany, where similar situations are encountered.
Coorcurity: Facilitating the coordination of social security systems for cross-border workers and pensioners
Arrabona European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation Ltd.
Frontier workers at the Hungarian-Slovakian border encounter several difficulties in applying for their retirement benefits. This happens because the social security systems of the two countries are not coordinated and do not take into account the specificities of cross-border work.
A solution to this problem would increase the interactions between the neighboring countries and would facilitate the establishment of a stronger intergenerational support system at a cross-border level. Furthermore, a new model of coordination could be replicated also along all the Hungarian borders with other EU members.