ITEM Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2021 published

Due to the Corona crisis, also many cross-border workers are forced to work in their home country. They have been asked not to cross the border to come to their office situated in the neighbouring country. At the moment, this is only possible because the Dutch, Belgian and German governments have agreed on special exemptions from certain rules until the rest of this year. Otherwise, these frontier workers would face major changes with respect to their social security contribution, taxes and health care. But what, if governments and employers from now on will permanently stimulate that employees work more days from home? ITEM has found out that this would have tremendous consequences for cross-border work if legislation does not change accordingly. This is one out of four case of this year’s research into border effects.

Nestled between Member States, cross-border regions in the EU bear the brunt of complications and discrepancies caused by mismatches between European and national policies. The expertise centre ITEM analyses such hindrances and publishes their assessments. Chief among these assessments is the annual Cross-Border Impact Assessment, of which the 2021 edition is published today. This year’s report consists of four dossiers, tackling  “border effects” ranging from the increase in homeworking during the Coronavirus crisis to healthcare discrepancies between nations.

With its own impact assessment methodology, the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility / ITEM studies cross-border effects to provide more insight into European and national legislative and policy initiatives. The report is intended as a valuable tool for policy makers at regional, national and European level when taking decisions on legislation and regulations with (additional) effects for (cross-)border regions. The research offers background and input to the political debate and even during the legislative process.

The four topics of ITEM Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2021 show (again) that a distinction between ex ante assessment and ex post evaluation is not always easy to make. While the first dossier is an ex-ante study, and the third and fourth dossiers can be considered ex-post analysis, the second research shares elements of both. By addressing three overarching research themes – European Integration, Sustainable/Socio-Economic Development, and Euregional Cohesion – each dossier puts a different emphasis depending on their study subject. This year’s topics are as diverse as they are compelling:

The first dossier is an ex-ante study on the predicted effects the EU’s proposal for a Directive on adequate minimum wages will have on the cross-border regions adjacent to Germany, namely those shared with Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Poland. A specific focus was placed on the effects the directive will have on cross-border workers, referring to frontier workers who live in one country and work in another. This dossier is the product of a successful joint research collaboration with partners from the Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network (TEIN), with whom ITEM first worked in 2020.

Last year’s collaboration with ITEM’s TEIN partners focused on the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on cross-border regions. Due to the continuing significance of the crisis, another two dossiers were written on the subject for 2021’s Cross-border Impact Assessment. The first of these is dossier 2, which ponders the long-term effects COVID-19 may bring forth in cross-border work culture regarding working from home, in particular with regards to the influence exercised by European and international coordination rules. The study pinpoints the far-reaching – financial or even discriminatory – effects and increased administrative burden that upcoming formal homeworking policies may impose on cross-border workers and employers, unless decision-makers reach tailor-made agreements for cross-border employment.

The third dossier, meanwhile, serves as a direct follow-up to the 2020 study conducted in collaboration with TEIN. It analyses the impact national crisis management has on cross-border crisis management. Due to restrictive border policies, national crisis management may stifle the efforts of Euregional crisis management. The 2021 research was conducted in collaboration with colleagues at Plato (Leiden University) and Ockham IPS, within the framework and support of the INTERREG project “Pandemric”.

The fourth and final dossier analysed whether or not the EU Patient’s Rights Directive is an adequate means to provide well-functioning healthcare to cross-border regions. Due to geographical necessity, cross-border healthcare is often essential in border regions. The ex-post assessment focused on the health systems of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and considered to what extent the EU Patient’s Rights Directive is fit to address discrepancies between them where they occur. The dossier identifies several ‘factors of success’ that contribute to establishing well-functioning healthcare in cross-border regions.

For more information about ITEM's annual Cross-Border Impact Assessment, go to our research page:

ITEM Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2021