Helping cross-border workers cope with complexity

People who live in one EU country but work in another have to deal with a range of issues relating to their tax status and social security rights, a situation that hampers labour market mobility in Europe. An EU-funded team of experts has examined these challenges through a study of cross-border commuting in southern Denmark and northern Germany. 

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" Due to the significant increase in the level of knowledge within the region – particularly in terms of the existing advisory services – citizens are enjoying much improved provision of information and are able to make even better use of their rights to free movement. In individual cases, the results of the project enabled those affected to improve their position. Consequently, amongst other things, it will also be possible to prevent social hardships in future. "

Peter Hansen, project team member

The Pontifex Bridge Builder project, supported by ERDF funding, was established to help open up the cross-border labour market between the two countries. Obstacles to mobility in areas such as taxation, social security and residency rules were systematically analysed from a legal perspective. Solutions to these problems – whether they arise from European or national legislation – were then developed and referred to the relevant authorities.

In addition, the project team examined and analysed case law, focusing particularly on judgements made by the European Court of Justice. The judgements which were relevant to the German-Danish labour market were presented in Pontifex newsletters.

Bringing clarity

The project has been able to clarify a number of issues which will help to make life easier for local cross-border workers including:
•    A decision that the Danish government is obliged to pay migrant workers full child benefits;
•    Showing that it is possible for third-country nationals residing in Denmark to work in Germany as a result of the cross-border commuter card; and
•    Providing more legal certainty with respect to the interpretation of residency rules and the Danish regulations on temporary workers.

Pontifex’s findings have been published in several publications and can be accessed through the homepage of the Sønderjylland-Schleswig region. In addition, the project’s work was exposed to a wider audience through a seminar which brought together European experts on cross-border mobility.

Ongoing benefits 

Cooperation on the issues dealt with by Pontifex continues through official channels on both sides of the border.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Pontifex Bridge Builder” is EUR 934 313 of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 607 303 from the Operational Programme “ Syddanmark-Schleswig K.E.R.N” for the 2007 tov2013 programming period. 


Draft date

16/12/2015