The summer period nearly starts. ITEM is looking back on a very productive and successful academic year. Even if we all have suffered a bit under the extreme weather conditions of the last month. This June 2019 has been the hottest June since measurements have started. And the heat did not stop at the border! We certainly might have to discuss in the future, what these extreme weather conditions might mean for our region and for cross-border cooperation.

During the last months we have reflected on the achievements we have reached in the past years. ITEM has been established in 2015 with the clear goal to contribute with scientific research to improve cross-border cooperation, to decrease barriers for cross border mobility and frontier workers and to stimulate awareness for the economic potential of border regions, the challenges they are facing due to legislation and administrative practices but also the chances and opportunities they have when border regions are cooperating together. In this period from 2015-2019, ITEM has developed a large network with regional, national and European partners. ITEM has shown that its original mission as formulated in 2015 has been achieved. Based on these results the institute can grow, intensify its research and develop further the specific instruments, such as the by ITEM developed cross-border impact assessment methodology as well as the cross-border knowledge portal, which can help policy makers in the decision making process.

We are very proud that an external independent Commission of Experts has evaluated ITEM and its achievements very positively during the past months. The Evaluation Commission recognized and praised the important network function ITEM has taken up on many levels: regional, national and European. ITEM has built close relationships with ministries and institutions in The Hague, Düsseldorf and Brussels, but has also become an active partner in academic networks of border research institutes such as the TEIN network and with neighbouring universities such as the UHasselt. In the past years, ITEM has developed close relationships with CBS in order to further develop data collection in a cross border context. Only with good and relevant data, evidence based decisions are possible to be made. These various forms of activities and co-operations have all been very fruitful. The Evaluation Commission specifically underlined the scientific but also the societal relevance of ITEM’s research and its activities.

In light of these evaluation, we are also very content that the Province of Limburg has fully recognized the importance of ITEM’s contribution to the further development of cross-border cooperation in its recent political declarations.

This encourages us to intensify our work also in the upcoming Knowledge/Axis period 2020-2024. For the future, we do hope that all Dutch provinces situated at borders will recognize the added value of scientific evidence for policy decisions as well as for the finding of possible legal, administrative and policy solutions when facing bottle-necks. One research presented in this newsletter, namely the North Sea Port, addresses precisely the bottle-necks in cases of cross-border cooperation but also offers possible solutions. Similarly, with the project B-solutions ITEM tries to develop a road map and factsheets for the facilitation of the often difficult recognition of qualifications in the cross-border context. Over all, with its scientific research and networking, ITEM tries to contribute to important economic and societal developments in the border regions.

This is also the aim of the next ITEM annual conference, which will take place in Enschede on the 21st and 22nd of November 2019. The title of this conference is: “Building a knowledge platform for cross-border cooperation”. During the first day, on the 21st of November special attention will be given to cross-border cooperation in the health care sector and in cases of emergencies. We sincerely hope that many of you will join us during these days.

Another conference on which I would like to draw your attention and which ITEM is organizing in cooperation with MOVES (the EU funded network for the free movement of workers & social security coordination) will take place on the 23rd of September 2019 in Maastricht. Title of this conference is “Free movement in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine”. During this event recent developments concerning social security coordination, access to social benefits, pension issues, unemployment, sickness and invalidity as well as recognition of qualifications in a cross-border will be addressed. Again we hope that many of you will find their way to Maastricht and participate in this event.

Until September, I wish you a fine (and not too hot) summer break and I hope to welcome you after the summer at one of our events.