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An entrepreneur working in the Netherlands, paying premiums and taxes but not allowed to claim support in times of corona. Not exactly an example of justice. Yet this was the situation for many frontier workers last year. Zzp'ers living in Belgium but working in Maastricht fell between two stools. The Belgian government stated that entrepreneurs were only entitled to support if they paid taxes in Belgium.
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Mart Den Heijer
The Dutch government, on the other hand, required entrepreneurs to live in the Netherlands to claim coronasteun. Thus, cab driver Umut Akkoyun, tailor Niels Drittij, and many other border workers sat at home for months without emergency support.
The Council group of Volt Maastricht finds this situation difficult to justify. So did the Limburg District Court, which held that the Dutch residence requirement for coronasteun violates the European right to freedom of establishment. Therefore, we filed a motion on May 31, 2022. This motion, called "TOZO regulation of frontier workers," called on the municipal executives of B&W (mayor and aldermen) of Maastricht not to appeal. The motion received strong support from the Council, but there also appeared to be much uncertainty. Mainly about the possible financial consequences should the municipality choose not to appeal.
During the council meeting, Volt was called upon to hold the motion. The council would like to wait for more information from the minister. Here we had, and have, an understanding. We decided to wait for clarity on the financial implications of the motion.
To create the requested clarity, a meeting took place on June 8, 2022 between the relevant Municipal executive and the ministry. Based on this agreement, a RIB (council information letter) was prepared and sent to the Council. This letter contains some arguments as to why both the State and the Municipality of Maastricht wish to appeal.
In this letter, the ministry gives the following argument, among others: "It makes clear that if Maastricht frustrates that possibility (to appeal), it must also take into account the possible major (financial) consequences." We can't quite see that risk. This puts us, not only the Council group but also the Council and the municipality, in an impossible position, where we have to choose between the welfare of frontier workers and that of Maastricht. And this while frontier workers are a vital part of our local ecomomy. That is why we are looking for another way. One that guarantees the rights of the frontier worker but also covers enough legal ground.
A cross-border problem requires cross-border solutions. We have sent this letter to the minister, asked these questions through our Member of Parliament Marieke Koekkoek (in cooperation with the CDA), and will enter into discussions with our MEP Damian Boeselager to see what we can arrange at the European level.
Volt wants to pursue pragmatic and positive politics. We see better solutions ourselves than litigation. According to us, it starts with laws and regulations. At both national and European level. One thing is central, a frontier worker will have to be treated equally everywhere.