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Economy & Culture
The future of hybrid working
The agreements around social security for frontier workers reached during the corona pandemic will run until July 1, 2023. This means that many frontier workers, many of whom now have the option of hybrid work, face an uncertain future. Should the amended regulations expire, it will become incredibly difficult for frontier workers to work partially from home. And this while hybrid working has become so normal in this era. As an international city, we depend on frontier workers, especially in a tight labor market. The less attractive it becomes to work across the border, the less attractive our region as a whole becomes. This is why we have submitted written questions to the Maastricht municipal executives and are working hard with our fellow party members to exert political pressure at the municipal, national, and European levels.
The internationalization of further education
Written questions asked
Last week, together with D66, we submitted written questions to municipal executives about The Hague's plans for higher education. The proposed Dutch language measure would be disastrous for an international university like Maastricht University. With our questions we want to find out to what extent the municipality is cooperating with UM and other knowledge institutions to communicate the impact of government plans for a city like Maastricht to The Hague. In addition, we hope to put pressure on the municipality to prevent a reduction in the internationalization of education and to promote the bonding of (international) students to Maastricht.
Written questions: cross-border public transportation
Still until 2031, Arriva may provide public transport in Limburg, contractually only 0.2 percent of those rides may fail. In reality, however, especially in recent months, the trip failure rate is much higher. To find out why and how municipal executives hopes to address this situation, we asked questions last week about European public transport in Maastricht and South Limburg. Because let's face it: we deserve much better connections to Belgium and Germany, don't we? This does require good cooperation: not only with Belgium and Germany, but also with Heerlen and Sittard-Geleen! We cannot talk about Euroregional transport if the local issues are not in order. Fortunately, as many as nine other groups supported our questions!
Council group To Volt Conference Enschede
Euroregional cooperation conference
This Saturday Jules, Mart, Anita, and Lisanne attended the Volt conference on Euroregional cooperation in Enschede. There, ITEM, mayors from border municipalities, and representatives of the cities in the Enschede-Munich Euregion gave several sessions throughout the day about Euregional cooperation and what we can learn from the Euregion in Enschede. Also, Jules, together with Tobias from Volt Aachen, gave a presentation on the Euregio Meuse-Rhine and how here, in terms of cooperation, much can still be improved. We were able to see how things are going in other border regions and what we can learn from them. In addition, we were able to share what obstacles we encounter in the local Euregio. In short, this was a tremendously inspiring, fun, and certainly educational day for us.
Council group visits the Vista municipal executives
The Council group paid a working visit to the Vista last week municipal executives. The purpose of this visit was to see how the municipal executives deals with internationalization. Indeed, compared to other MBO educational organizations, the Vista municipal executives is far ahead of the curve in this regard. For example, there are trips for students organised to work on projects abroad with other students and there are several 'internationalization' coordinators active within the municipal executives . During the working visit, we especially saw that MBO should be put on a par with HBO and university: an international environment also has great added value for practically educated students. Unfortunately, when it comes to laws and regulations, there is still a great deal of inequality. It is all very well regulated for the university, but at the MBO an international approach is not facilitated. In conclusion, we have learned that in a border city like Maastricht a lot is happening in the field of internationalization, but also that people and/or organizations often want more and do not get this themselves organised (for example, due to lack of legislation that facilitates this). We as a municipality can still do a lot in this respect.
Anita at consultation Maastricht Working on Europe
Activities Municipal executive Anita
As a member of the Advisory Board, Volt Municipal executive Anita attended a meeting of Maastricht Working on Europe. During this meeting we reflected on the past year and looked ahead to Maastricht's future within Europe. Among other things, it was discussed how Maastricht's international character and profile can be emphasized in order to improve the city's business climate. The role and valuable activities of Studio Europa were extensively discussed.
Jules in conversation with Volt Aachen
Visit to Volt Aachen
Last weekend Jules visited representatives of Volt Aachen. In a conversation with Tobias Schindler (Volt Aachen), several cross-border challenges in the Meuse Rhine region, including public transport and border workers, were discussed. In addition, two concrete topics were discussed. First, that Jules and Tobias will both speak at the Volt Symposium on Feb. 25 in Enschede. A look behind the scenes: Jules and Tobias will mainly talk about the challenges and opportunities of Euroregional cooperation. Secondly, work has been done on the written questions about the store vacancy in the city center of Aachen. This involved looking at how we, as Maastrichtians and South Limburgers, could possibly help Aachen in this regard. For example, Maastricht is struggling with sky-high rents and a lack of retail and residential space. Together with Volt Aachen, we want to examine the extent to which, by working together, we can solve each other's problems.
A week on the road with Municipal executive European Affairs Anita Bastiaans
Are you ever curious about the activities of our Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans? Or would you like to know what the agenda of Municipal executive actually looks like? Then read our blog here and take a look inside a week of Anita.
Anita visits Studio Europa
Last week Volt-Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans visited Studio Europa, a knowledge center focused on Europe in Maastricht. With representatives of the institution, she discussed how the municipality can achieve several of its Europe-related goals, such as increased cooperation with the EU and within the Euregion, but also how the municipality can ensure that those benefits are clear to Maastricht residents and reach all residents of the city. Concrete activities were also discussed during the visit, such as organizing a debate in which residents can have a discussion about the role of Europe in Maastricht.
Jules Ortjens and Anita Bastiaans take part in MEP debate
Last Saturday, party leader Jules Ortjens and alderman Anita Bastiaans participated in a Model European Parliament debate organised by MEP Limburg at the Student Hotel in Maastricht. In this debate they had a discussion with young people about the future of Europe.
A halt to the influx of international students?
News and Policy
The second chamber recently passed a motion asking educational institutions to stop the active recruitment of international students. For cities in the Randstad, the impact may be limited, but in the border region we are partly dependent on the young talent living on the other side of the border. Such a uniform measure, designed in The Hague, is not appropriate for a border city like Maastricht. Customization is needed. In addition, this policy also contradicts the ideal image of the EU. In short, we will oppose this and do all we can to defend the interests of a European border city in The Hague.
Update December 9: As it turned out, we were not the only ones. All parties in Maastricht indicated that they shared our concerns. Not only Maastricht, but also Venlo, Roermond, Sittard-Geleen, and Heerlen; almost all of Limburg spoke out against the Lower House motion in a letter. Several universities also expressed great concern in another letter. We are therefore very pleased with the news that Minister Dijkgraaf (Science) is listening to these concerns and has decided not to implement the chamber's motion.
Volt representatives to Maastricht
Representatives of Volt Leuven, Brussels and Aachen were present today in the Mosae Forum. There they worked all day with Mart and Jules on various Euroregional ambitions. Of course, this was also the perfect opportunity to test Belgian and German perspectives on our policies and strengthen cooperation on border-crossing topics. We found this type of working visit very effective and will organize it more often.
Working visit to European Committee of the Regions
Working visit Anita (Municipal executive)
Volt Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans received representation last week from the European Committee of the Regions, a European political body with the goal of connecting decentralized governments (such as provinces, municipalities, and cities) with the EU. The Committee does this by allowing these regions to give advice to the European Union and get involved in the creation of new European rules. Several topics were discussed during the appointment, including culture, education, public health, social policy and transport. For Maastricht, as the beating heart of Europe, it is important to strengthen our ties with the EU, which is why another appointment is also in the works.
More cooperation between Maastricht and the European Union
Working visit Anita (Municipal executive)
Last week Volt Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans was in a meeting with two members of The Netherlands' Permanent Representation to the European Union, the Netherlands' de facto embassy to the EU. This meeting looked at how to improve cooperation between Maastricht and Brussels. We hope to do this by, for example, building a network in Brussels and improving Maastricht's visibility in the city. We also discussed how to strengthen Maastricht's position as a workplace of Europe. Our ultimate goal is the arrival of European institutions in Maastricht, as happened earlier with the European Institution of Public Administration.
Minister Schouten and the Tozo scheme
Answer from Ministry
On July 5, Jules sent a letter to Minister Schouten on behalf of a broad coalition of parties to inquire about the status of the Tozo regulation. Minister Schouten responded to this letter in writing last month. This response can be read here.
Based on this response, to our disappointment, we must conclude that the ministry will not take any action at this time. This means that victims of the current regulations have no option but to go to court to get their rights. This has happened before and another lawsuit will be launched in 2023. While we understand these actions, we hope to avoid a situation where the courts are consistently the only way out for citizens. Regardless, Volt Maastricht will follow this lawsuit with full attention.
Why Volt is ceding its spot on the Mayor's Commission
Council Group Update
As recently described in 1Limburg and RTV Maastricht, we will not participate in the committee that selects a new mayor next year. We have explicitly chosen for this because we consider the way the mayor is elected now to be democratically illegitimate. The mayor is not elected at all, but put forward by a select number of council members. Ordinary citizens have hardly any say in this procedure (only indirectly, in the municipal elections).
By making room in the Mayor's Commission for larger parties, Volt hopes to give as many Maastricht people as possible a say, at least indirectly, in the selection of the new mayor.
Volt Maastricht to General Assembly
Citizen members Romy and Ryan attended Volt's general membership meeting in Prague. There they connected with Volters from all over Europe. They also discussed, together with other elected officials, the priorities for the 2024 European elections and how to improve cooperation within Volt. In short, an important moment for the development of the party.
Curious about what was discussed? Then listen to episode 3 of our podcast ´Mestreech Made in Europe´: "Czech" this episode
More cooperation in the Meuse-Rhine region
Volt Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans made contact with ITEM. A research institute engaged in consulting, knowledge exchange and training activities in the field of cross-border mobility and cooperation. In addition, Anita is attending the first event of Interreg Meuse-Rhine. This division of Interreg will focus on promoting a smarter, greener, and more social Meuse-Rhine region.
Sustainability impact tripod bottles
Currently, many tripod bottles still end up in the trash or next to the trash. We think it is very important that more is done about recycling. So people should be able to hand in these bottles for a deposit. That is why, on the initiative of D66, we are submitting a motion to stimulate recycling of plastic and glass waste. Want to know more? The motion can be found here
Start brainstorming phase organizing Council group-events: From the desire for more communication and interaction between the Council group and constituencies, we are looking at possible Council group-events in Maastricht: what does an event look like, is it feasible, and how will it be organised? The Council group consulted with its members.
Update Tozo letter minister of social affairs!
Motion & letter
A Maastricht for all Maastricht people is also a Maastricht for frontier workers. Read here what we have done to stand up for this group of people.
Aldermen visit Brussels
The municipal executives of B&W traveled to Brussels, it was an official working visit. The goal was to get to know as many people as possible and to make visible that Maastricht wants to strengthen its ties with Brussels.