RTL Today – From remote working to co-development: what if Luxembourg financed infrastructure for cross-border commuters?
In a collection published by the Idea Foundation, the economist Vincent Hein outlines a new idea for joint development between Luxembourg and its neighbors. This would find its origin in the teleworking of cross-border workers.
The unlimited remote work granted to cross-border commuters since March 2020 will be continued and even extended until the end of September. This is a boon for cross-border commuters who can look forward to summer with the opportunity to work from home as much as necessary. It’s also a great shop for Luxembourg, which received a nice gift from its neighbors. But what happens next?
The Idea Foundation is considering what could happen if the unlimited teleworking allowed by Luxembourg and its neighbors ends. The foundation has dealt in particular with the consequences of the permanent return of frontier workers and the associated tensions in traffic, the financing of public services and the pressure on the cultural or sporting infrastructure.
In a collection published by the Foundation in June, the economist Vincent Hein suggests that Luxembourg could strengthen joint development with neighboring countries. How? His answer is the creation of funds financed by the Grand Duchy and neighboring countries to finance infrastructure and services beyond the borders of the Grand Duchy. The idea is similar to that of the Mayor of Thionville, Pierre Cuny.
Maximize remote working for cross-border commuters
The economist explains his proposal: Pushing the tax thresholds for teleworking to the maximum (up to the European limit of 25%) would be strategic for Luxembourg and a win-win situation for the border regions. He believes this would guarantee around 50 days of teleworking per year for cross-border workers. That is a little more than one day a week, including public holidays, almost double today’s amount.
Of course, income tax would continue to be levied exclusively in Luxembourg. In return, however, Hein proposes that Luxembourg pay a percentage of these taxes, which would be reinvested in specialized cooperation funds, to which neighboring countries would also contribute, in order to invest in infrastructure and service projects.
Such a joint development has already been initiated. Luxembourg finances mobility projects at the border with France. In Belgium it redistributes part of the tax collected through the Reynders Fund. However, Vincent Hein assures that it is possible to do more.
This money would go to local projects like training courses or community facilities that make the areas more attractive.
This does not only apply to mobility. Hein cites the case of the nurses as an example. Mobility projects that make it easier for nurses to come to Luxembourg do not solve the problem, but pooling funds to create nursing schools is a start.
According to Vincent Hein, the real challenge for Luxembourg is to negotiate with the neighboring states: To convince them to forego the possibility of taxing their residents who work in the Grand Duchy, but in return to guarantee them the financing of very specific projects that are useful in everyday life or to master the challenges of the region.
This is the opposite of the famous “Christmas decorations” that Xavier Bettel does not want to finance. It remains to be seen whether the Prime Minister can accept the idea until it is defended against his German, Belgian and French counterparts.
Because if they were very forgiving in the teleworking crisis, they might expect a Luxembourg gesture in return.