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Why a border region should lobby at The Hague

Last week we could read in De Limburger that the municipality of Maastricht is appealing a local judge's ruling on the application of ToZo benefits to border entrepreneurs who work in Maastricht but often live just on the other side of the border. We, as a pan-European party, are only just entering politics but see that the missteps are being made by our border region at a much earlier stage. We lobby too little. Not in Europe, but in The Hague.

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Mart Den Heijer

European law is pretty clear on this: Europeans get their social rights in the member state where they work and have to pay their social and tax taxes. This is the starting point and thus the reason why many frontier workers had expected to receive the Dutch Corona benefit. Legally, almost everything is always more complicated than it seems at first glance: something already seems to be going wrong at the national level. The Dutch TOZO regulation, which had not been tested for possible border effects for those working in the Netherlands, says in this situation that it matters where you live. European legislation deviates from that. And that while the other way around, in Germany and Belgium, that is not the case with the frontier workers who work there. This flaw will at best be labelled awkward in The Hague. But for a region like South Limburg, only about 10% of which borders on the Netherlands and the rest on Germany, Flanders and Wallonia, such a mistake has a major impact on its inhabitants and economy.

Somehow it is understandable that the municipality is doing this. The legal world of transboundary legislation is sometimes so complex that appealing is the quickest way to ensure that the flaws are exposed and that judges can explain to politicians who is on the short end of the stick (probably national politics). But as understandable as that is, the border worker now lives in fear and uncertainty. For Volt, it is clear that the problem is not at the local level, but at the national level. So politics should have sounded the alarm much earlier.

European border cities can only flourish economically because of, not despite, their border location: thanks to the logistical, cultural, economic and social ties they have with the surrounding foreign country. This distinguishes border cities from other cities. They will not flourish economically if border location is constantly talked about as a potential barrier. If the surrounding foreign country is just an obstacle, then there is no reason to invest in the border region. Then it makes much more sense to invest in the capital region, as far away from the borders as possible. If a city like Maastricht is to flourish, it can only do so if national legislation takes much more account of the interests of the border region. The interests of border workers are also the interests of our border region.

And this is precisely why it is very important that we, as South Limburgers, do more lobbying. In The Hague. Because paradoxical as it may sound, a well-cooperating Euroregion starts with national politics. The border region pays the price for bad border politics in The Hague. Let us therefore take a new political turn as a South Limburg region, together with Heerlen and Sittard-Geleen, that is clearly heard in the corridors of The Hague and picked up there. Not by putting out fires when the border worker bears the brunt of woe. But by tackling the contraction errors in Dutch border policy from the very beginning.