“GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode aims to bring the three cultures and countries within the Euregio Meuse-Rhine closer together and reduce obstacles for mobility within the area”, tells Heike Xhonneux, head of GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode.
“We consider ourselves to be a practice-oriented knowledge centre for the most diverse questions of cross-border commuters – citizens as well as enterprises - on the topics of working, living and studying”, she continues.
One of GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode’s main goals is to merge the labour-markets of all three countries in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine and create a 360° (cross-border) labour market. Thus, the Euroregion will sustainably progress in terms of labour and prosperity, increasing its attractivity. However, with the changes of habits of employees following the pandemic and the shifts in technology that ensued it, new challenges to labour markets in border regions arose. To quickly address this issue, GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode took part in b-solutions to receive support from experts on how to respond to the consequences of working from home in the border region, where this has impacts on the social security and taxation of cross-border workers.
In 2021, GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode benefited from the technical assistance of experts of the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility (ITEM) as part of the b-solutions initiative. The experts analysed the obstacle caused by the lack of regulation on home office for cross-border workers. They suggested solutions to address the obstacle in the report “Corona pandemic and home office: consequences for the social security and taxation of cross-border workers” (accessible here: https://www.aebr.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/34_Report-GrenzInfoPunkt.pdf).
Participating in b-solutions enabled Heike Xhonneux and her team to make progress in addressing the obstacle.
“After (almost) closed borders and thousands of commuters left helpless with the matters of the pandemic, they now are confronted with countless inequalities revolving around the new working methods such as working from home. The report helped us in many ways. On the one hand it delivered robust data by ITEM’s experts to corroborate our arguments and communication with the authorities and decision-makers to help them comprehend the situation of cross-border commuters in our Euregion. On the other hand, the study supported our work in the means of anticipation and planning. Through the data, we were able to generate new counselling programs for employees and employers alike to prepare both sides for the consequences in case a political agreement on the matter would fail to appear”, explains Heike Xhonneux.
To achieve such a political agreement, GrenzInfoPunkt Aachen-Eurode and Openbaar Lichaam Eurode have teamed up and have entered a new phase of b-solutions. It consists in supporting the implementation of the two cases. This is possible due to an additional support by experts of ITEM who will draft a document addressing the needs identified in the previous analysis, including new elements coming from Openbaar Lichaam Eurode’s case - the 100th application submitted to b-solutions’ calls for proposals to receive support in solving legal or administrative obstacles that hinder cross-border cooperation. The beneficiaries will be able to present the results to political stakeholders involved through a workshop to be organized in the next months.