ITEM Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2022 published

Once again this year, the annual report of the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility / ITEM offers new insights into the effects on border regions of European and national legislation and policy initiatives. The 2022 Border Impact Report is intended to be a valuable tool for policy makers at regional, national and European level to identify the effects on the border region and cross-border cooperation.

Cross-border effects come in many forms. The ITEM Cross-Border Effects methodology, as highlighted in this video, focuses on three overarching themes for which border effects are analysed:

European integration: the cross-border impact of certain legislation and policy from the perspective of individuals, associations, and enterprises correlated with the objectives and principles of European Integration (i.e. freedoms, citizenship, and non-discrimination);

Socioeconomic/sustainable development: the cross-border impact of legislation and policy on the development of the economy in the border region;

Euregional cohesion: the cross-border impact of legislation and policy on cohesion and cross-border governance structures in border regions (e.g. cooperation with governmental agencies, private citizens, the business sector, etc.).

This year's report includes seven dossiers, chosen on the basis of a survey of ITEM stakeholders and other interested parties. In addition, topics may also be highlighted in the context of ITEM's day-to-day activities under the ITEM annual cycle. The topics are again varied, from the cross-border effects of a fireworks ban to regulation on platform workers. The dossiers were nominated by the relevant ITEM researchers through a pitch, which can be viewed on YouTube. The files show (again) the importance of testing for border effects, as is also mandatory in the Netherlands since 2022 for new legislation and policy under the Integral Assessment Framework.

European Health Data Space

The first file looks at the European Health Data Space as an ex-ante analysis. On 3 May 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation creating a “European Health Data Space” (EHDS). The EHDS would create a digital infrastructure for health data, under which health data could be exchanged more easily throughout the EU. This dossier analyses the potential effects of the EHDS on the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, should the proposal be implemented.

EU Proposal for a directive on platform workers

Another European proposal analysed in the Cross-Border Impact Assessment concerns the EU proposal for a directive on platform workers in the second file. Today, more than 28 million people in the EU work online through digital work platforms. By 2025, the number is expected to rise to 43 million people. In response to this fast-growing labour market and an unclear legal framework, the European Commission has proposed a directive to improve the working conditions and social rights of platform workers, require greater transparency from digital work platforms and promote the sustainable growth of these platforms. This dossier assesses the potential cross-border effects of the proposed legislation via ex-ante analysis.

Energy transition and Energy Security 

What impact does the current legal, spatial and economic framework have on cross-border cooperation on renewable energy and related climate challenges? This is related to the assumption formulated by many stakeholders that border regions are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to fulfilling their obligations regarding renewable energy targets and other energy transition goals. The focus is on German-Dutch relations in the third file; Energy transition and Energy Security: The effects of the current legal, spatial, and economic framework on renewable cross-border projects (and cross- border cooperation in times of energy crisis).

Cross-border exchange of information in the fight against organised crime 

The fourth file deals with Cross-border exchange of information in the fight against organised crime (ex-ante). Organised crime does not stop where the border begins. To address the problem of cross-border organised crime, the European Commission has launched two legislative proposals under the umbrella of the Security Union strategy. These consist of a draft directive and a draft regulation. This dossier assesses the potential effects both measures would have on the cross-border regions of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, if they are implemented.

Border effects of the Dutch fireworks prohibition 

The fifth file highlights the Border effects of the Dutch fireworks prohibition (ex-ante). During the 2021-2022 turn of the year the Netherlands banned the sale, transport, outdoor possession and lighting of fireworks. This was described as a temporary measure to diminish hospitalisations during the COVID-19 crisis, to reduce the burden on healthcare workers. These measures were different in Belgium and Germany at the time, where fireworks remained (partly) legal. This dossier assesses the border effects the Dutch fireworks prohibition, as there is a draft law proposing to render it permanent.

Border residents’ perceptions of the ‘border’ and ‘identity’ after the COVID-19 crisis

The sixth file, being an opinion piece, focuses on Border residents’ perceptions of the ‘border’ and ‘identity’ after the COVID-19 crisis: how do we establish it? During the COVID-19 crisis, (physical) borders were re-erected between the Member States in the EU. This phenomenon is likely to have affected the perception residents have on the border. Especially in a cross-border region like the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, where a 360°-perspective is being promoted when it comes to cross-border cooperation, living and working, deeper insights into such perceptions are of interest when pondering ideas like Euregional identity. This year a commentary will address these aspects as a follow-up to the two research dossiers on the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021. Additionally, it serves as the foundation for developing a uniquely localised barometer on identity, which will be expanded upon in future research.

The cross-border effects of the Dutch Nitrogen policy

The seventh and final file is a student file on The cross-border effects of the Dutch Nitrogen policy. In 2019, the Dutch nitrogen policy was deemed to be in conflict with European legislation by the Dutch Council of State, after a previous preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU to the same effect. In response to these assessments, the Dutch government has rolled out a mix of measures to alleviate concerns. These range from reducing the maximum speed on motorways to establishing subsidy schemes for farm modification. Because nitrogen emissions spill over across the border, in turn affecting nature, health, agriculture and industry there, this dossier assesses the border effects of the Dutch Nitrogen policy as it stands. The research has been carried out in the context of a PREMIUM-project by a multidisciplinary student team.

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