The topics for the ITEM’s annual Cross-Border Impact Assessment 2023 have been selected and the research phase is now well underway. The final reports will be presented at the ITEM Annual Conference, November 17th 2023.
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 current issues from legislation and policy 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 and analysing these themes, ITEM aims to contribute to both the scientific debate and improving (policy on) cross-border mobility and the socio-economic development of cross-border regions in practice.
This years’ topics:
1. Euregional Barometer: broad prosperity indicators from a cross-border perspective
Worldwide, there is increasing attention to the idea of measuring and promoting prosperity in the broad sense, as under the Sustainable Development Goals and in the Netherlands under ‘Brede Welvaart’. In the Netherlands, it has become a popular concept at the national level as well as in provincial and local government agreements. It encompasses everything people consider of value. Besides material prosperity (including gross domestic product), it also includes immaterial prosperity (wellbeing) such as the living environment, social cohesion, health and safety. In the Netherlands, Brede Welvaart is measured by various monitors and qualitative and quantitative indicators. Like the EU Regional Competiveness Index and OECD Regional Wellbeing Index, among others. For all existing indices and broad welfare approaches, although these are also available on a regional basis, they are not cross-border. This does not take into account the cross-border region, what exists across the border and what interactions exist across borders. For example, how can the theme of living (including distance to elementary school and distance to café) be reliably measured if residents cross the border for these activities?
In this dossier, the indicators of Brede Welvaart in the Netherlands are highlighted from a cross-border perspective. This file is a follow-up to the 2022 Euregional Perception file and a prelude to the creation of a Euregional Barometer, in which ITEM makes the situation in the cross-border regions more transparent and measurable. In doing so, ITEM will make an initial pilot for the purpose of a baseline measurement in a number of cross-border regions.
2. Potential effects of current transnational/cross-border infrastructure projects on border regions
There are at the moment impressive plans for cross-border infrastructure projects crossing the borders of NL/BE/DE. In the case of hydrogen infrastructure, waterways, rail-infrastructure, there is the understanding that due to climate change ambitions and legal commitments, these type of infrastructure has to be realized in rather short time periods. Or, as in the case of the Einstein Telescope in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, spatial planning decisions, permits and subsidies need to be synchronised across borders to avoid damaging delays and shortcomings.
This dossier will examine the various projects and ambitions and the central question is aimed at uncovering the missing link: do we have the right tools to tackle this kind of cross-border challenge? And do we know which partner has the right competences across the border? Are there certain obstacles that can be detected as a common problem to the infrastructure projects mentioned? And, what are innovative instruments that could help to facilitate and accelerate big cross-border infrastructure projects?
3. Kinderzuschlag and Kindgebonden budget: The border worker caught in the middle?
Kinderzuschlag is a supplement to child allowance in Germany. This is intended for low-income families. Since last year, however, the applicant must reside in Germany to receive the allowance. In the Netherlands, the income-related supplement is called the kindgebonden budget. The eligibility of such supplement is linked to the right for the child benefit (kinderbijslag). For example, in a situation of a (single) parent residing in the Netherlands and working in Germany, they may not be eligible for either of the allowances. Especially for those with lower incomes, this has major consequences. Is this situation in compliance with European law, and do the two respective countries correctly interpret the regulations in cross-border situations? Why is the kinderzuschlag no longer exportable like it was prior to 2022? One may also question the justification for the restriction of kindgebonden budget to the right to Dutch child benefit under EU law.
4. Future-proof acute care in the Netherlands: 360° cross-border perspectives
The Minister of Health, Welfare, and Sport (Ernst Kuipers) has proposed concentrating acute care in response to rising demand for emergency care and personnel shortages in the Netherlands. However, concerns have been raised what effect this proposal has on the proximity and quality of care in border regions, where patients already face long distances to healthcare services. While the proposal emphasises the importance of enhanced regional cooperation in the delivery of care and patient distribution, it raises the question of whether adequate attention is given to the impact and opportunities in euregional and cross-border cooperation.
5. Public Transportation in the Euroregion Meuse-Rhine (PREMIUM-project)
How to improve cross-border transport between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany? Cross-border public transport is a crucial part of Euregional mobility. The question how cross-border public transportation is affected by national legislation or policies and what can be done to improve it, is the core issue of this project. Adequate public transport is an important factor in lowering the emission across Europe, several studies have shown the limitations or missing links to cross-border mobility. Within the PREMIUM project, a multidisciplinary student team will conduct a Cross-border Impact Assessment of the state of affairs of (sustainable) cross-border public transportation.
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.