Annual Cross-Border Impact Assessment by ITEM

Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2020: Corona mainly controls the cross-border situation

At present, borders across Europe are closing and traffic between Member States is limited. It is clear that the Corona crisis is having an impact on life in (cross-)border regions. For example, currently the Belgian border with Germany and the Netherlands is closed (for persons without essential reasons to cross the border). So, the consequences for our cross-border regions will be significant. This means that the effects of the Corona crisis may make some of the questions of our annual Cross-Border Impact assessment irrelevant. We are taking this into account. The effects of the crisis itself is an important part of the 2020 assessment. Nevertheless, we would like to present the topics that we are working on in collaboration with interdisciplinary teams of researchers – for the time being.

Annual Cross-Border Impact Assessment

ITEM’s main task is to help remove border barriers within the EU. That is why we publish a detailed annual report on which we regard as the key issues that could create such barriers. These include, for example, barriers that arise for people living in one country but working in another, or barriers inhibiting local authorities working together on cross-border projects. By identifying these themes, we hope to make a scientifically sound contribution to improving cross-border mobility and the socio-economic development of cross-border regions.

Consequences of the Corona crisis for cross-border regions

As mentioned above, this could still change considerably in light of the developments in cross-border regions. For example, it is certainly necessary to examine over the course of a few months what the consequences will be following from the current organisation of national health care and crisis management across the border. There are already signs that instruments such as national statistics on the number of infections and the closing of national borders do not take into account the regional and cross-border challenges in the Corona crisis.

As usual, we will present the final report at our annual conference. This year it will take place on 19 and 20 November in Zeeland.

This years' topics

1) The impact of the Corona crisis on life in cross-border regions and the effects of cross-border coordination or misalignment of crisis response (TEIN study*)

The research will focus on the question what effects the national approach to crisis response and cross-border coordination has had on cross-border regions. To what extent did the focus on national figures, national capacities in healthcare and national measures influence the situation? How intensive was the cross-border coordination and what consequences did it have for the development and combating of the crisis?

*For the first time, ITEM will, together with partners from the Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network (TEIN), examine the possible cross-border effects of this EU initiative for four different cross-border regions across Europe. In addition to mapping the impact on these regions’ citizens, businesses and society, this dossier offers a unique opportunity to test and further develop the methodology of the ITEM Cross-Border Impact Assessment throughout other parts of Europe in close collaboration with the TEIN partners.

2) Decentralisation in the welfare state: a Dutch case study

Since 2015, youth care in the Netherlands has been (relocated) in(to) the hands of municipalities. As a result, youth care is no longer covered by the EU system that coordinates social security. Therefore, a Dutch family living in Germany but working, going to school and visiting the family doctor in the Netherlands, may run into difficulties if there is a need for youth care.

3) Cross-border job placement and training budgets

To counter shortages on the labour market, it may be necessary to work in another country. The same applies in the future when people will be unemployed due to the corona crisis. Targeted training can greatly facilitate placement. However, it is difficult to finance training for a new job in a cross-border setting because it is unclear which country and which employment agency is responsible for this.

4) German basic pension ("Grundrente")

New legislation is about to come into force in Germany whereby every resident is entitled to a so-called basic pension. This measure is meant to counter poverty among the elderly. It is still unclear what this means in detail for frontier workers working in Germany.

5) Sustainable development and quality of life in the Netherlands from a Euregional perspective

The Dutch government is developing a Strategic Outlook on the Quality of Life in the Netherlands (Nationale Omgevingsvisie (NOVI)), which provides a long-term vision on the future and development of the quality of life (leefomgeving) in the country. To what extent does this strategy contribute to sustainable development in the Euroregions around the Netherlands? And to what extent are the citizens concerned being involved in this process?

6) End of German coal-based electricity generation ("Kohleausstieg")

In Germany, a law is about to enter into force to end coal-based electricity generation. This could have major consequences for the economy around the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the economy is still very dependent on coal production for the generation of electricity. The intention is to conduct an ex ante assessment of the potential impact of planned structural investments in the Rhineland (“Rheinisches Revier”), i.e. the Rhenish area of (former) coalfields, on the cross-border region as such.

These dossiers are still subject to change, depending on current developments.

The expertise centre ITEM (Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility) operates at the convergence of research, counselling, knowledge exchange and training activities in the domain of cross-border mobility and cooperation. 

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