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Monitoring of cross-border labour markets – why and how?

January 2023

In a previous blogpost (Opens in a new window), we showed that the notion of cross-border labour markets is initially inspired by a limited number of areas with massive cross-border commuting flows, such as the metropolitan regions of Geneva and Luxembourg. However, in current European policy discussions, it includes a much broader set of cross-border regions where in and out-flows of commuters are a marginal component of primarily national labour markets.

Monitoring these diverse labour markets is important from different reasons. From a European perspective, progress in cross-border integration can be considered to reflect progress in Single Market integration. For a cross-border labour market to function, national administrative and legal systems manage have to elaborate joint solutions to a shared issue. Such labour market also reveal the extent to which mental barriers to cross-border interaction have been overcome.

To understand cross-border labour markets, it is often necessary to compile sub-regional social and economic data. Not only are NUTS 3 and NUTS 2 regions too large to function as “building blocks” for the delineation of these labour markets. To guide policies targeting these areas, one also needs to understand their internal structures.

Multiple attempts have been made to create databases that cover all European municipalities, known as “local administrative units” in the EU jargon. The ESPON programme has for example compiled them. However, limited data availability and differences in statistical methods and definitions makes it very difficult to produce and maintain such databases. Eurostat only disseminates data on total population by local administrative unit (Opens in a new window). These data were compiled by Spatial Foresight in 2015.

Each cross-border labour market only covers a limited number of countries. It is therefore often easier to overcome data compilation and harmonisation challenges. More ambitious databases can therefore be set up to make it possible to monitor trends in cross-border labour markets.

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