(PhD) research

The programmed research is as follows

Towards a legal framework for the registration of land in Europe

When: July 2015
Topic: cross-border cooperation of governments
Title:  ‘Towards a legal framework for the registration of land in Europe’

PhD research, persons in charge:

Mr. K. Zimmermann / Prof. dr. S. van Erp (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law) and Prof. dr. R. Schulze (Universität Münster).

The research focuses on the simplification of cross-border conveyance of land in the European Union. The thesis is split into three chapters. In the first part, a thorough comparative law study on the registration schemes of the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and England/Wales will be carried out. In order to guarantee a good understanding of the registration process, attention will particularly be paid to the most important players (e.g. the notaries, conveyancers and registrars) and to the definition of the object that is subject to the conveyance. The second part will start with a discussion on the desirability of European initiatives in this field. Furthermore, the second part will provide an inventory and an analysis of these initiatives that are suggested or realised by science, the notaries and the land registries. On the basis of the two first parts and by decoding other innovative initiatives such as the Land Administration Domain Model or the International Registry of Mobile Assets, the third part will develop a legal framework for the registration of land in Europe.


‘Qualification problems: between social security and supplementary pension’

When: September 2015
Topic: Cross-border pension problems and work mobility
Title:  ‘Qualification problems: between social security and supplementary pension’

PhD research, persons in charge:

Mr. B. Didden / prof. dr. A.H.H. Bollen-Vandenboorn and Prof. dr. M.J.G.A.M. Weerepas (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law).

The European Commission aims at the specification and stimulation of an adequate pension. European countries have initiated reforms of pension systems not only to provide an adequate pension but also a financially sustainable pension system. These reforms, however, all have a national focus. The pension systems of the European countries show a wide variety. In some countries, for instance, the emphasis is on the first pillar pension (social security), while in other countries the second pillar pension is important, whereas in an internal situation, both pillars mostly are attuned to each other. In cross-border situations, an entirely different legislation (Regulation 883/2004) applies to first pillar pensions than to second pillar pensions (tax treaties).

Also the tax treatment of the pension is not the same in every country (not every country e.g. allows premium deduction or provides exemptions during the accrual phase based on the same conditions). The problems are aggravated because the one and the same pension can be characterized differently. When a mobile employee builds up a pension in cross-border situations, he will be confronted with the problems of this pension qualification. Depending upon the qualification, he may or may not qualify for tax relief concerning the pension accumulation, but he may also encounter favourable or less favourable tax consequences if the pension is paid out. The aim of this research is to reach common criteria that from a European perspective can be applied in cross-border pension situations, resulting in an equal tax treatment guaranteeing the free movement of workers.


Cross-Border Liability in Subcontracting Chains

When: October 2015
Topic: problems of workers, welfare agencies and public bodies
Title:  ‘Cross-Border Liability in Subcontracting Chains’
PhD research, persons in charge: Mr. K. Heller / Prof. dr. M.J.G.A.M. Weerepas and prof.dr. R. Prokisch (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law).

Cross-border employment involves a number of thorny issues. With respect to the cross-border hiring of contractors or subcontractors, a key question is the country in which income taxes and social insurance deductions are to be paid. The subject of cross-border employment has received considerable attention. The European labour market, fraudulent employment constructions and the free movement of services are the primary reasons for this. Countries try to resolve problems by adopting new legislation and stronger law enforcement. Changes are currently being introduced at the European level as well.

Rules for liability in the subcontracting chain can be used in cases in which the payment of taxes and social insurance obligations do not occur in the usual manner. Subcontracting chain liability makes it possible to hold parties liable for the collection of taxes and insurance deductions other than the party owing the taxes. The applicable law contains numerous conditions. An important question is whether current Dutch law allows for the collection of unpaid taxes from a third party found liable for payment of such taxes if that party resides abroad. An unequivocal answer has not always been given in the Netherlands. A possible conflict with the free movement of services plays a role in this discussion. Also implicated is the free movement of workers. It would be very useful to know whether Belgium and Germany have comparable chain liability laws and how these countries deal with cross-border liability. Both legislation and jurisprudence are important in this regard. The aim of the research is to determine how The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany deal with cross-border liability in subcontracting chains and to make proposals for a possible change with respect to cross-border liability.

PhD Presentations
PhD Presentation - K. Heller - 5 April 2018 - Optimising the EU legal framework to facilitate cross-border liability of international labour supply


The Recognition of Qualifications in the EU: Blurring the Lines of Competences between the Internal Market and Education

When: October 2015
Topic: cross-border labour mobility
Title:  ‘The Recognition of Qualifications in the EU: Blurring the Lines of Competences between the Internal Market and Education’

External PhD candidate, persons in charge:

L. Kortese, LL.M./ Prof. dr. H. Schneider (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law), mr. dr. S. Claessens, LL.M. (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law) and mr. dr. S. Schoenmaekers, LL.M. (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law). 


Before individuals with a desire to work or study in another Member State are able to do so, they need to make sure that they will be granted access to the host Member State’s labour market or educational system. In many cases, recognition of their professional or academic qualifications is a prerequisite to working or studying in a second Member State. Underlying the recognition of qualifications is a theoretical distinction between two types of recognition: professional recognition related to working in another Member State and academic recognition for those who want to study in a second Member State. Originally of a theoretical nature, this distinction has been accompanied by a division in EU competences. Whereas professional recognition falls within the scope of the EU’s internal market competence, academic recognition falls under the restrictive EU competence in the area of education and culture.

In this context, it is clear that the EU is the main actor on professional recognition. The recently modernized Directive 2005/36/EC regulates access to another Member State’s labour market for those professionals exercising a regulated profession. Access for non-regulated professions falls within the scope of the free movement Articles in the Treaties, meaning access to such professions is largely dependent on the decision of the employer. The situation for academic recognition is less clear-cut. Being outside the scope of the EU’s competence to create hard law, the area is dominated by various actors who also create their own legislation and cooperation initiatives. This has resulted in a factor complicating the area of the recognition of qualifications: EU Member States both implement the EU Directive on professional recognition, but also take part in non-EU academic recognition initiatives that need to be implemented in their national legal orders. What are the consequences of this disparity of legal instruments? How does this affect the free movement of persons? Located at the border between two strongly different competences, this PhD research seeks to provide answers to the aforementioned questions and strives to provide solutions to the longstanding issue of the recognition of qualifications. 


Acountability in social work. A comparative study of accountability strategies for social workers in Flandern, Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Netherlands

When: December 2015
Topic: social policy
Title:  ‘Acountability in social work. A comparative study of accountability strategies for social workers in Flandern, Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Netherlands’

PhD research, persons in charge: 

Drs M. Heijnen van der Tier / dr. N. Reverda, chair Dutch Knowledge Institute Social Impact Demographic Changes (expertise from NEIMED) and prof. dr. K. Hermans (University of Leuven).


Limburg is an ageing province – care and welfare hence are important topics. De-institutionalisation, decentralisations, active citizenship, community healthcare service – to name but a few important terms – are central in the transformation of the welfare state. This movement occurs in Flanders, the Netherlands as well as in North Rhine-Westphalia. Research into the quality of life in the three areas and transnational comparison, particularly when it concerns the social support and the related responsibilities, hence is more than relevant. The research will be accompanied by workshops, conferences, courses and other forms of transfer and dissemination. These activities will be specifically listed in the project plan.


The onward migration of asylum migrants in the Netherlands

When:  January 2016
Topic: Linking immigrants to Limburg
Title:  'The onward migration of asylum migrants in the Netherlands'

PhD research, persons in charge:

Drs M. de Hoon / prof. dr. H. Schmeets (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences / Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek), prof. dr. M. Vink (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)


What binds immigrants to a region? This project analyses the migration trajectories of immigrants in a border region context, with a specific focus on the province of Limburg. In the project we analyse the mobility pathways among migrants once they arrive in the destination context; whereas some stay, others move on, to another region in the Netherlands or abroad and, finally, again others may migrate, but return afterwards, or find themselves in an in-between cross-border life situation. We look at various types of immigrants, ranging from students, highly-skilled and unskilled labour migrants, family migrants and refugees, coming both from within the European Union and beyond. The project focuses on migration trajectories in the context of individual life courses, legal status transitions (such as citizenship acquisition) and economic and demographic characteristics of border regions. Furthermore, we look at the relevance of contextual factors at municipality or neighbourhood level to determine whether social capital (e.g., social contacts, participation in society, institutional trust) influences why some municipalities are more successful in ‘binding’ immigrants than others. The project employs a quantitative methodology, analysing longitudinal register and survey data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on foreign-born residents and natives with a focus on comparing municipalities within Limburg and within other regions in the Netherlands.


Feasibility study on regional museum cooperation and regional museum pass

When: January 2016
Topic: cross-border cooperation
Title: ‘Feasibility study on regional museum cooperation and regional museum pass’

Research, persons in charge:

Prof. dr. H. Schneider / dr. K. Lubina (expertise Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


The idea of a cross border museum pass in the region Maas Rhine/Rhine Maas North is based on the example set by the Association of Museums-PASS-Musées (formerly the Upper Rhine Museum Pass). This association has been founded in December 1998. The members of this association are either from Germany, France or Switzerland. From the very beginning onwards this initiative had more than 120 participating museums as members of the Upper Rhine Pass. In 2015 this initiative has more than 320 museums, castles and gardens as members of the association in the three countries and the geographic dimension of the project has increased enormously increased. Furthermore, this initiative has become financially fully independent.

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‘Research concerning outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) and the integrated cross-border policy in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion’

When: March 2016
Topic: cross-border cooperation of governments
Title:  ‘Research concerning outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) and the integrated cross-border policy in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion’

PhD research, persons in charge:

K. Geurtjens LL.M / Prof.dr.mr. H. Nelen and mr.dr. M. Vanderhallen (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law).


In recent years, there has been a lot of attention for forms of organised, subversive crime in the border area between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, in particular the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. Think e.g. of the outlaw motorcycle gangs which have greatly expanded over the past decade.

This project aims at identifying the role of the border for the (criminal) activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs and their members, as well as for measures imposed on outlaw bikers by the competent authorities, following an integrated policy. The term integrated policy refers to an approach whereby the nature, the seriousness and the extent of a crime phenomenon is clarified by various partners (police, Public Prosecutor, taxes, special criminal investigation departments, government) and whereby all the parties involved in conjunction with one another develop a method to keep that problem under control.

The research will therefore focus on (1) cross-border activities by outlaw motorcycle gangs (2) information sharing and cross-border operations by competent authorities and (3) how to improve the current situation regarding the cross-border approach to outlaw motorcycle gangs on the basis of situational crime prevention.


Productive Borders: Artistic research of everyday border practices

When:  April 2016
Topic:  Euregional cultural cooperation in a time of perilous borders
Title:  'Productive Borders: Artistic research of everyday border practices'

Research, persons in charge:

Dr. R. Benschop, chair Autonomie en Openbaarheid in de Kunsten (Autonomy and Public Nature in Arts) (expertise from Zuyd Hogeschool) together with Inèz Derksen (artistic directer of Youth Theatre Company Het Laagland) and Christophe Aussems (artistic directer of the Belgium theatre company Het Nieuwstedelijk)


The project is a collaboration between the research centre, Het Laagland (a theatre-company in Sittard) and Het Nieuwstedelijk (a theatre-company in Belgium). The project has two aims: 1) artistic research of everyday border conduct and 2) practical experimentation of cultural institutions with over-the-border collaborations. The three parties will cooperate over a variety of (hard and soft, national and cultural) borders and thus gain insights in practice into such collaborations. At the same time, artistic research will be conducted about the issue of borders. Plans have further been made for the three institutes to develop a program in which knowledge and methodologies of research can be explored and shared. The project is practice-based action-research in which artistic research is developed in situ and the local specificity of knowledge is taken seriously. It does not presuppose positive results of cultural activities, but rather takes the question what relevant roles cultural actors might develop within the Euregion as a starting point. The research will be accompanied by workshops, conferences, courses and other forms of transfer and dissemination. These activities will be specifically listed in the project plan.


Towards a cross-border pension tracking service between the Netherlands and Germany

When:  June 2016
Topic:   cross-border information exchange and communication
Title:  'Towards a cross-border pension tracking service between the Netherlands and Germany’

PhD research, persons in charge:

S. Kramer, prof. dr. A.H.H. Bollen-Vandenboorn (LAW), dr. L. Brüggen (SBE) (expertise from Maastricht University, interdisciplinary cooperation between Faculty of Law and School of Business and Economics)


The freedom for citizens to live and work where they want is a strong European asset. In Europe, about 8 million people work for a shorter or longer time outside of their home country. They thereby of course build pension. How and how much may vary from one country to another, as is the case for the retirement age and other options. The problem they are confronted with is that to date, there is not one central place to which they can address themselves to gain insight in their individual pension rights. At this moment, it has to be considered and retrieved per country. A European pension register could offer a solution: then there would be one coordinating system in which all the European pensions can be found. The TTYPE (Track and Trace Your Pension in Europe)-consortium, which, on the authority of the European Commission, has recorded the possibilities for a European tracking system, has stated in its final conclusions that it is possible, but a lot still needs to be done. 

Within this context, the PhD research focuses on the cross-border information and communication improvement between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In the Netherlands, there is a national pension register where the citizen can find the information on his pension contribution and his employee pension. Belgium also newly has a national pension register. In Germany, there is no national system at this moment. And yet there is a large labour mobility between these countries. The research focuses on a mutual information and communication system between these countries. The research is executed within the scope of the TTYPE-project and can as such put forward its results.


NIEM project (National integration Evaluation Mechanism)

When: 2016 - 2022
Topic: Cross-border mobility / migration
Title: 'NIEM project (National integration Evaluation Mechanism)'
Law research, persons in charge:
Research lead by the Institute of Public Affairs (Poland) and Migration Policy Group (Belgium), UM researchers involved:
Dersim Yabasun and Natasja Reslow (Faculty of Law)

The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) project is a six-years long transnational project which aims to prepare key actors in the integration field in 15 EU Member States to better face the current challenges and improve the integration outcomes of beneficiaries of international protection. As it takes currently on average 17 years, before refugees fleeing civil wars may eventually have a chance to return to their home country, the long-term integration of newly arrived beneficiaries of international protection is without alternative and presents an immediate challenge for European societies. NIEM will establish a mechanism for a biennial, comprehensive evaluation of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection to provide evidence on gaps in integration standards, identify promising practices and evaluate the effects of legislative and policy changes © http://www.forintegration.eu


Communication in multilingual workplaces in the Euroregion

When: January 2017, start ITEM research
Topic: cross border labour mobility, multilingualism, identity
Title:  ‘Communication in multilingual workplaces in the Euroregion’
PhD research, persons in charge: D. Hovens / prof. dr. L. Cornips (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences / Meertens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) & prof. dr. H. Schmeets (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences / Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek)

In the Netherlands, as elsewhere in Europe, labour mobility across borders is increasing, which leads to multilingualism, language barriers and cultural barriers in the workplace. The Dutch province of Limburg and the neighbouring German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia are regions where workers commute daily across the Dutch-German border. This area is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion and the Euregio Rhine-Meuse-North.

The aim of this PhD project is to investigate daily practices in multilingual workplaces in this border area. In these workplaces, groups and individuals can choose for different languages, including (1) a national standard language: Dutch or German, (2) a local dialect: Limburgish or Low German, (3) a lingua franca: English, and (4) a minority language: for example Polish or Turkish. Moreover, it is possible to (5) switch between various languages: code-mixing, or to (6) choose for receptive multilingualism: a communication mode whereby everyone speaks the language (s)he prefers, while relying on other peoples’ ability to understand that language.

The most important research question is which communication modes are used in the workplace, by which people and in what situations. By looking at concrete, daily language practices in the workplace, the idea is to map problems, and to formulate recommendations for future employees on the euroregional labour market.


Employment and Social Security of Patchwork-Workers in a De-territorialized Labour Market in the EU: New Patterns of Work and Mobility regarding the Cultural Industries considered in the Light of EU Law

When: January 2017
Topic: Cross-border labour mobility
Title:  ‘Employment and Social Security of Patchwork-Workers in a De-territorialized Labour Market in the EU: New Patterns of Work and Mobility regarding the Cultural Industries considered in the Light of EU Law’

ITEM Research, persons in charge:

E. van Ooij / Prof. dr. H. Schneider (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law).


In the 21st century, rapid technological progress, increased competition stemming from globalisation, changing consumer demand and significant growth of the services sector demand more flexibility on the labour market. This can be seen in the emerging trend of variations in work organisation, working hours, wages, and workforce size. Against that background, the classical ‘employee’ working for an undetermined period for one employer only seems to become the exception rather than the rule. Due to different forms of work, more persons are working across borders within the European Union, especially in border regions such as the Euregio Maas-Rijn.

Since employment statuses and social security rights are interconnected, the EU fundamental right of free movement interferes naturally with the competence of Member States to establish their social security system. The current approach of coordinating the national systems aims to unite the Member States’ will to protect their social security system with the States volition to enable a European Single Market. Therefore, the EU Regulation 883/2004 applies the principle that only one national social security applies to an individual. Flexible labour agreements, such as on-call contracts or job sharing, increase the complexity of the application of Regulation 883/2004. Notably, new patterns of work and mobility combined with several forms of employment simultaneously – the patchwork-worker - result in complex and legal unclear situations. It may be true that employers need more workers by flexible agreements; however, workers want social security protection and need legal certainty as to which rule applies. Moreover, no sufficient or well-organised protection of the social security position of migrant workers could deter employees to accept posts in the other Member States that need to be occupied. Or, in times of economic recession, employers could take advantage of the weaker position of the worker while proposing flexible agreements only.

This background begs the question to which extent Regulation 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems contributes to promoting the exercise of the free movement right of economically active professionals in a way that takes account of the new forms of employment and is in agreement with the Treaties. In this study, the researcher aims to analyze which constraints and impediments mobile professional encounters when exercising the right to move within the European Union in a professional context, while taking into account new forms of employment statuses. Therefore, this study will scrutinise the hyper mobile sector of the cultural industries in the Euroregion through case studies. Subsequently, a comparison between the national legislations and policies of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands applicable to those hyper mobile and (in)dependent patchwork-workers will be made. Finally, based on the foregoing analyses and comparisons, the researcher will conclude with proposing measures and recommendations to increase legal certainty for the group of patchwork-workers and reduce the obstacles they encounter when crossing borders to exercise their particular profession in another Member State. Furthermore, the outcome can serve as an example for other, yet more traditionally organised sectors that may be confronted with the phenomena of new forms of employment in the near future.


Project Cross Border Execution of Sentences between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (CrossBES)

When: January 2017
Topic: Cross border cooperation
Title: 'Project Cross Border Execution of Sentences between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (CrossBES)'

Law research, persons in charge:

Project steering committee: T. Dolmans, N. Wiegers, J. Mocken, M. Groven (members of the BES)
Key experts: D. Van Daele (KU Leuven), prof. mr. A. Klip (UM/FL), prof. dr. H. Nelen (UM/FL), J. Simmelink (Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands / UM/FL) 


The focus of cross border cooperation in criminal matters has until now always been on the investigation phase. The enforcement of penalties is never a central theme. Nonetheless it is an equally important aspect of the enforcement of criminal law, especially in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Experiences have shown that sentenced persons use/abuse the borders to hinder the correct, adequate and timely execution of their sentences. The absence of a swift and clear response, in particularly across borders, results in impunity, a sense of insecurity and injustice.

In each of the three countries (the Netherlands and Belgium, Germany) several reports of national authorities show that the execution of sentences is inadequate. The objective of this project is to improve judicial cooperation in the field of Cross Border Execution of Sentences (CrossBES) between the three countries and other EU-countries, contribute to the effective and coherent application of the EU legal framework, strengthen mutual confidence, trust, recognition and the network of legal practitioners and to prevent convicted persons from abusing borders to escape punishment.

To successfully execute sentences across borders, increase the level of reintegration of the convicted person into society, the sense of security and decrease impunity, it is imperative that neighbouring countries know each others’ and EU’s possibilities, limitations and structures in this field.

Building on “BES Practice”, the partners within the project want to create a network of practitioners and to improve the knowledge and cooperation in this field, by offering the practitioners the outcome of a comparative law study including the (new) EU framework decisions, three in-depth trainings and a practical guide being the roadmap on how to successfully execute sentences across borders.

The aim of the comparative law study is to inform legal practitioners of the legal framework/system/structure of each of the three participating countries and to create cross border understanding. This study will give practitioners working in the field of CrossBES an overview of the legal possibilities and allow them to choose the best option to execute the sentence in a specific case. Different from other studies, this comparative law study will actually be used as a reference book. After all, in the execution phase, practitioners can take the time to decide upon the best option for each individual case, taking into account the legal possibilities, the position of the victim, social importance and reintegration of the convicted person into society.


Cross-border internships in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion

When: March 2017 - July 2017
Topic: Cross-border labour mobility
Title: Cross-border internships in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion

ITEM contract research, persons in charge:

Martin Unfried (Ontgrenzer ITEM)


The five partner regions of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion have been collaborating for years in order to promote cross-border internships. Even though students at the senior secondary vocational level (MBO) can choose from many internships within the Euregion, only a small number of them actually cross the border. While the overall number of students doing an internship abroad is growing, the Meuse-Rhine Euregion, which has more international than national borders, is hardly showing any growth in the number of students doing an internship in the neighbouring countries Germany and Belgium. As a result, many internship vacancies remain open in these countries, constituting a missed opportunity for the cross-border labour market.

The ITEM Expertise Center has been commissioned by the Meuse-Rhine Euregion and EURES to start a research project to identify the obstacles and success factors regarding cross-border internships in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. The aim of this project is to make an inventory of the success factors or obstacles for students wanting to do an internship in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. The research is particularly aimed at institutions of senior secondary vocational education (MBO) and is led by ITEM's ‘de-borderer’ Martin Unfried.

Several previous projects were initiated around the theme of euregional cross-border internships: Linguaclusters, projects around Euregion competency/certificates, the Learning Euregion (Rhine-Waal), Xperience (Rhine-Meuse-North) and Eurfriends (Meuse-Rhine). Despite the different INTERREG projects, it remained difficult to establish a sustainable structure for cross-border internships.

It is assumed that there are a number of fundamental obstacles in terms of:

the different qualification standards
the various definitions of an internship
the cultural and language barrier and the motivation of pupils and students
cross-border transport

Various surveys and interviews will be conducted in cooperation with institutions of senior secondary vocational education (MBO) in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. This ITEM research project is financed by EURES and the Meuse-Rhine Euregion.


Cross-border Corporate Mobility in the EU

When: March 2017 - March 2020
Topic: Cross-border company mobility
Title: 'Cross-border corporate mobility in the EU'
Law research, persons in charge:
Thomas Biermeyer and Marcus Meyer (Faculty of Law)

This topic of cross-border company mobility has been on the EU legislator’s agenda for several decades. However only in the last decade through the creation of European company law forms, such as the European Company (Societas Europeae, SE), legislation on cross-border mergers – the Cross-Border Mergers Directive (“CBMD”) – and the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has EU integration accelerated in this area.

When considering new legislation and the protection of different stakeholders in corporate mobility transactions, such as shareholders, creditors or employees, a crucial question is to what extent companies use cross-border mobility mechanisms in practice, may it be concerning cross-border seat transfers, cross-border mergers, cross-border divisions or the activities of SE/SCE companies.

Different studies and research exercises have been undertaken in this area, yet, none of which has been able to provide a full picture as to the extent of corporate mobility in the EU.

Whilst also this project titled ‘Cross-border Corporate Mobility in the EU’ (CbCM) will not claim to provide a full picture, it will attempt to continue the collection of data in areas in which data previously has already been gathered (SEs, cross-border mergers) and aims to shed light on new areas, such as data collection in the area of cross-border transfers of the registered office of a company (seat transfer) or cross-border divisions.

The project will be, in short, a data collection exercise concerning company mobility within the EU/EEA using these instruments: European companies (SE, SCE), cross-border mergers, cross-border seat transfers and cross-border divisions. Data therefore will be collected on these instruments for all 28 EU Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The data will be collected from 2017 onwards until at least 2020. Following the successful award of a Jean Monnet grant by the European Commission, the project has been extended to also cover the period starting from 2000. The project monitors now the period 2000 until 2020.

The project is financed by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI).

For more information visit the research page Cross-border corporate mobility in the EU


Cross-border mobility of specialised IC nurses

When: March 2017 - March 2018
Topic: Cross-border mobility
Titel: 'Cross-border mobility of specialised IC nurses'
Research commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations, person in charge:
L. Kortese (Faculty of Law)

The following description is only available in Dutch

Wanneer er op de arbeidsmarkt een tekort aan personeel wordt geconstateerd, denkt men al gauw aan de aanstelling van werknemers van over de grens. Zo ook in het geval van de IC‑verpleegkundigen. De casus die ITEM onlangs onderzocht betrof een vraagstuk uit de praktijk. Een Nederlands ziekenhuis in de grensregio kampte met een tekort aan IC verpleegkundigen en een vergelijkbaar tekort aan Nederlandse sollicitanten. Een logische oplossing zou zijn om IC‑verpleegkundigen te werven over de grens. Inderdaad, Belgische sollicitanten meldden zich voor de functie, toch bleek hun aanstelling geen vanzelfsprekendheid.

Naar aanleiding van deze situatie werd het Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross-border cooperation and Mobility / ITEM door het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties verzocht om het vraagstuk van de gespecialiseerde verpleegkundigen IC te onderzoeken. Er leek bij deze verpleegkundigen namelijk een obstakel te bestaan in de vorm van een kwaliteitsstandaard. Kwaliteitsstandaarden zijn noodzakelijk en gangbaar in de Nederlandse zorg en waarborgen vooral een hoge kwaliteit gezondheidszorg. Hoge kwaliteit wordt bij IC-verpleegkundigen vooral gewaarborgd door een eis te stellen aan de kwalificaties die zij moeten hebben. Ze moeten namelijk een College Zorgopleidingen (CZO) erkend diploma hebben. Dat diploma kan tot nu toe alleen in Nederland verkregen worden. Belgische IC-verpleegkundigen voldoen daarmee op voorhand niet aan de standaard. Hoe gaat de praktijk hiermee om? Hoe is het in het Europese recht geregeld? Welke oplossingsrichtingen kunnen voorgesteld worden? Deze vragen stonden centraal in het door ITEM uitgevoerde onderzoek.

In het onderzoek werd geconstateerd dat er in de praktijk vaak gekozen wordt om IC-verpleegkundigen met een buitenlands diploma een volledige of gedeeltelijke CZO-erkende opleiding te laten volgen. De reden hiervoor is te herleiden naar verschillen tussen de praktijkonderdelen van de opleidingen alsook naar mogelijke gevolgen van de niet-naleving van de geldende kwaliteitstandaard. De Kwaliteitsstandaard, die een CZO-erkend diploma vereist, werd daarnaast getoetst in het licht van het Europese recht, met name op het gebied van de erkenning van beroepskwalificaties en het vrij personenverkeer. Hoewel de erkenning van beroepskwalificaties op Europees niveau is vastgelegd in de Richtlijn beroepskwalificaties (Richtlijn 2005/36/EG, zoals gewijzigd door Richtlijn 2013/55/EU), geldt het beroep ‘gespecialiseerde verpleegkundige IC’ niet als gereglementeerd beroep waardoor de richtlijn niet van toepassing is op deze beroepsbeoefenaren. ITEM constateerde dat de kwaliteitsstandaard als belemmering op het vrije verkeersrecht van werknemers en het recht op non-discriminatie op basis van nationaliteit kan worden beschouwd.

Ter afronding van het onderzoek stelde Expertisecentrum ITEM enkele oplossingsrichtingen voor, gerelateerd aan de formulering van de kwaliteitsstandaard, de vergelijking van opleidingen in Nederland en België, meer grensoverschrijdende samenwerking in de zorg en verder vervolgonderzoek.

Het rapport en de presentatie kunt u raadplegen via onderstaande links:

ITEM - De Grensoverschrijdende Mobiliteit van Gespecialiseerde Verpleegkundigen IC - Nederland/België - L. Kortese (4.78MB, PDF)
ITEM - Presentatie - Grensoverschrijdende mobiliteit van verpleegkundigen IC - 7 maart 2018 (270KB, PDF)

Lees meer:

Rapport over gespecialiseerde verpleegkundigen IC gepresenteerd
Cross-border mobility of specialized nurses - two Dutch hospitals in border regions


Gain Insight into the Professional Qualifications Directive

When: September 2017 - March 2018
Topic: Cross-border mobility
Title: 'Gain Insight into the Professional Qualifications Directive'
Law research, person in charge:
L. Kortese (Faculty of Law)

Directive 2005/36/EC, also known as the Professional Qualifications Directive is the instrument on the recognition of professional qualifications for regulated professions. The directive underwent an extensive modernisation via Directive 2013/55/EU, which updated the complex instrument.

The Professional Qualifications Directive is applicable to those professionals who are looking to carry out their regulated profession in another Member State. This means that the directive only applies to professions for which qualification requirements are laid down in laws, regulations or administrative provisions.

The fact that the instrument only applies to regulated professions may give the impression that its scope of application is limited. The EU nevertheless counts thousands of such professions, meaning that it is of great importance to ensure the mobility of professionals exercising regulated professions.

The directive itself provides for multiple routes and procedures for recognition. Additionally, the instrument also lays down provisions concerned with the exercise of the profession. All in all, the Professional Qualifications Directive is a long and complex instrument which may prove challenging to navigate.

ITEM has developed a brief explanatory guide to increase the readability of the Professional Qualifications Directive thereby allowing interested parties to quickly gain insight in the directive’s structure and content.

A hard copy of the Simple Guide to the Professional Qualifications Directive is available in Dutch and German at a cost of 12,50 €. To order your copy, please send an email to ITEM[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl.

Please note that the document is only available in Dutch and German.

Download the document here:

Professionele erkenning inzichtelijk gemaakt: Richtlijn 2005/36/EG, zoals gewijzigd door Richtlijn 2013/55/EU
Berufliche Anerkennung erklärt: Richtlinie 2005/36/EG wie geändert durch Richtlinie 2013/55/EU

Read more:

Gain Insight into the Professional Qualifications Directive: A simple Guide


Cross-border impact assessment 2018

When: December 2017 - September 2018
Topic: Cross border labour mobility
Title: Cross-border impact assessment 2018

Persons in charge:

M. Unfried (Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


What are the effects of national and EU policy and legislation on border regions? Are cross border workers affected by newly or soon to be implemented national or EU policy/legislation?

One of the main objectives of the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and mobility / ITEM is to set-up and implement an annual cross border impact assessment report. Currently, there is a lack of information concerning the (expected) impact of national and EU policy and legislation on border regions. ITEM annual cross border impact assessment will start revealing the effects.

For more information regarding ITEM's annual cross-border impact assessment, please click here.


Transfrontier fiscality

When: 2017 - 2018
Title: ‘Transfrontier fiscality’

Information regarding this research project will be announced in due time.


Feasibility study cross-border professional recognition card

Wanneer: Start 2018
Thema: Cross-border labour mobility
Titel: ‘Feasibility study cross-border professional recognition card’

ITEM research, persons in charge:

L. Kortese, LL.M./ Prof. dr. H. Schneider (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


ITEM starts feasibility study ‘cross-border professional recognition card’



Youth mobilities across borders

When: Start 2018
Topic: Cross-border labour mobility
Title:  Youth mobilities across borders

PhD research, persons in charge:

Prof. dr. V. Mazzucato (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)


Youth (11-18 years old) in border regions are involved in different types of mobilities. They move across borders for education, leisure and work on a frequent basis. They may live in one country and attend secondary or tertiary schools in another country; they arrange to meet their friends in neighboring countries; they vacation by visiting places not far from home but across borders; and in problematic cases, they may commit offenses in countries other than where they live. The Limburg region is no exception to this phenomenon. However, there is very little research that investigates the way this everyday mobility impacts youth’s transitions into adulthood as they relate to moves into higher education, employment, independent living, social belonging and active citizenship. Youth mobility has been greatly simplified and often studied in the context of adults’ mobility: either as children who accompany their parents, children who reunite with parents or children who ‘stay behind’ while their parents migrate. This project focuses on how youth live the border, what different mobility patterns they have and how these patterns shape their motivations, identities, conditions and transitions into adulthood. By understanding these dynamics, the region of Limburg, which is currently undergoing a population decrease, can be aided in thinking about how to attract young people – future students and workers – to this area. Furthermore, organizations aiming to increase the life-chances and well-being of youth, such as schools or social work institutions, can gain insight into a constituency about which little is known: youth who cross borders on a frequent basis. The project focuses on youth from different socio-economic backgrounds and on those with and without migrant backgrounds.


Formal and informal social protection across borders

When: Start 2018
Topic: Linking immigrants to Limburg
Title:  ‘Formal and informal social protection across borders’

PhD research, persons in charge:

Prof. dr. V. Mazzucato (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences). Second supervisor is not known yet, will be asked within 3 months after the start of the PhD candidate.

One of the main reasons why people move for work and study is to ensure a better living for themselves and their family. Workers who migrate to Limburg may need to organize their family lives, and especially the care functions, across borders. From taking care of their elderly parents and children who do not live in Limburg, to ensuring their own health and pension, to accessing quality education for their children. Yet little is known about what hurdles these workers encounter in organizing their and their family’s social security nor the channels, both formal and informal, that they use to find solutions. This study investigates how different groups of migrants who come to Limburg organize their and their family’s social security. It asks: a) what are challenges that mobile workers experience in ensuring their social security across borders; b) what formal and informal solutions do they find to these challenges. Ultimately this research aims to propose ways in which social security arrangements can cater to mobile workers and attract them to the Province of Limburg. The study includes both high and low-skilled workers as well as workers from within as well as outside of the European Union.


Foreign students and school-leavers in the Euregion

When: start 2018, ITEM research
Topic: Linking immigrants to Limburg
Title:  ´Foreign students and school-leavers in the Euregion´

PhD research, persons in charge:

Prof. dr. F. Cörvers, ROA (expertise from Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour market / School of Business and Economics). Second supervisor is not known yet.


The project concentrates on the attraction of Limburg and the Euregion for foreign young people. To what extent are institutions in the secondary education (intermediate vocational education, higher professional education and higher education) able to link young people of another nationality to Limburg or to one of the neighbouring areas? Is the link with the country where they are participating in the educational programme strong enough? Can ‘binding’ factors be identified (for instance membership of associations) and how transparent and realistic are the career perspectives of foreign young people? What are the most important moments of decision to stay here to live and work? What strategies do companies use to link young immigrants to the region? What clever connections can arise to make the investments in foreign students work on a regional level? The central research question is: which circumstances link young foreign school-leavers to the region having them wanting to stay here to live and work after their education and which personal characteristics (for instance type of education, professional group) have them either move within the Netherlands or leave the Netherlands again? For the research, we use CBS data and graduate data of the ROA.


Understanding the decision of international migrants to stay or leave the Euroregion

When: 1 January 2018
Topic: Linking immigrants to Limburg
Title: ‘Understanding the decision of international migrants to stay or leave the Euroregion’

PhD research, persons in charge:

J. Reinold, Prof. Dr. M. Siegel (expertise from Maastricht University, Maastricht School of Governance), co-promotor: Dr. M. van der Giessen (expertise from NHL University of Applied Sciences, Leeuwarden)


The goal of this project is to better understand the decision-making factors of international migrants in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine with regard to arrival, staying or leaving the region. In particular, the project focuses on perceived advantages or disadvantages of living in a border region. The outcomes from the project will enable policy-makers in the region to employ policies to better attract and retain highly-skilled international migrants in the region. The research is planned to cover the Netherlands: Sittard/Geleen, Maastricht, Heerlen; Germany: Aachen, Düren/Jülich; Belgium: Liege, Hasselt, Genk. This project will use both surveys conducted with migrants in the region and in-depth interviews with highly-skilled migrants and stakeholders. Key areas of focus for this project are on international migrants, cross-border workers, third country nationals, reason for initial migration and more. The following is a list of some of the factors in decision-making, which will be investigated, however this is not exhaustive:

  • Hard locational factors such as employment and career opportunities,  working environment, job security, further education opportunities, salary and costs of living
  • Soft locational factors such a living environment, leisure time activities, recreational and cultural opportunities , (ethnic) diversity, tolerance, family-friendly environment, public safety, political as well as economic stability, public services (taxation system, medical services, health care system, social security)
  • Social factors, such as the role of the partner, children, family and friends, level of integration/ contact with locals and social capital/ networks
  • Demographic/ socioeconomic background factors


The influence of education on cross-border regional identity in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion 

Topic: Cross-border regional identity
Title: ‘The influence of education on cross-border regional identity in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion’

Dissertation, persons in charge:

F. de Vries, Prof. dr. H. Schneider and Prof. mr. S. van Erp (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


The Meuse-Rhine Euroregion is a complex cross-border region with diverse cultures and languages (Dutch, German and French). Despite this complexity and the relatively low level of economic, educational and cultural exchanges between the different parts of this region, there is (or at least seems to be) an increasing political and societal will to focus on the Euroregion for the region’s economic and cultural development. The existence, creation or inspiration of a cross-border regional identity could be a precondition for the development of a politically and socially strong Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.

An analysis will be made through this research of the concept of 'regional identity’ in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. The study will mainly focus on South Limburg (NL) and the Belgian Province of Liège.

The complexity of a shared identity in the region is represented by major linguistic and cultural differences on the one hand, and a shared economic history and feeling of belonging on the other.

In the analysis an emphasis will be placed on the role of teaching and the centralized Dutch and Belgian education systems in the past, the present as well as the future. Historically education has played an important role in strengthening borders and national versus regional identities. As a result in the past Dutch and Belgian education effectively eliminated the regional identities. Ironically however, through the development of the European Union and economic globalisation, a different trend has emerged and education is now viewed as a motor to strengthen that trend: an emergence in regional identities. Through this research an analysis will be made of current language education in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, and initiatives aimed at increasing the knowledge of the vernacular and culture of one’s neighbour and, thus, increase real human interaction. 

The research is interdisciplinary: historic, sociological, economic and legal. 


Access to digital assets

When: ongoing ITEM research
Topic: Cross-border information improvement
Title: 'Access to digital assets'

Persons in charge:

Prof.mr. S. van Erp (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


This research addresses problems related to access to digital assets, for instance after decease (someone’s so-called digital afterlife). One could envisage e-mail accounts, but also digital bank accounts, outstanding balances at web shops or pay sites (such as PayPal) etc. In practice, this problem by definition seems to be transboundary, think of worldwide web service providers such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook, but also of more regional service provision (for instance the purchase by a Dutch resident via a web shop in Belgium, Germany or Luxemburg). Problems may also arise when the involved is still alive, for instance when someone is placed under state administration or goes bankrupt.


Methodology for territorial impact assessment for cross-border regions

When: start 2018
Title: ‘Methodology for territorial impact assessment for cross-border regions’

Information regarding this research project will be announced in due time.


Depending on external financing, the following research may be taken up by ITEM:

Burglary in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion

When: depending on external financing
Topic: cross-border cooperation of governments 
Title: ‘Burglary in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion’

PhD research, persons in charge:

Prof. dr. H. Nelen (expertise from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law)


Burglaries represent one major security issue for people in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine. In fact, the phenomenon has been classified as priority in all the partner regions as well as in the EMR. The combat is particularly difficult since we’re facing local and cross-border issues. The initiatives taken the last years didn’t bring the desired success, even though the cooperation between police actors has grown steadily. Hence, the main security actors of the Euregion decided commonly to tackle this topic by a global and integrated approach. The idea is to prevent and fight this phenomenon at all the levels with all the actors. 

  • The project would interact on the level of prevention including citizen participation;
  • Information exchange would be another main topic. Therefore crossing-technology and information becomes a key factor of success.
  • Research and development would allow us to empower the actors by analysing the cooperation, the tools and the investigations.
  • Combining technological tools. In BE and NL ANPR cameras (automatic number plate recognition) have been installed. The idea is to investigate how to exchange data of these systems in order to use them commonly. Furthermore the placement of these cameras can be coordinated so that a euregional network could be created.
  • Support the existing networks in a common approach. It’s important to exchange the information that the networks have with the project team. Therefore regular exchange and mutual support is strongly needed.

This common project of police, justice, administrative authorities and scientifics should 

  • aim at lower the amount of burglaries in the EMR;
  • assure citizen participation and information on this issue,
  • empower the euregional security cooperation;
  • promote a euregional and multidisciplinary approach.