Crime does not stop at borders! The municipalities of Echt-Susteren (NL), Sittard-Geleen (NL) and the municipality of Selfkant (D) all know this too well. In their daily practice, the municipalities have to deal with residents who, for example, work across the border, move to a neighbouring country, residents who start a business just across the border or a resident of a neighbouring country that applies for a permit at the municipality. In principle, the above examples do not need to be a problem. After all, we live within the European Union, where cross-border living and working is a great advantage and has become a matter of course. Challenges arise when criminals use the border to stay out of the administration’s sight: registering at a German address in order to avoid an outstanding debt with a Dutch municipality, starting a business across the border because the permit has been revoked in the other municipality, applying for a permit in a foreign municipality so that there is no insight in the finances in the country of origin.
Echt-Susteren, Sittard-Geleen and the municipality of Selfkant have made this issue open to discussion. On the basis of general practical examples, the municipalities have gained more insight into each other’s powers and the underlying opportunities and challenges. The focus was on the possibilities: not thinking in terms of problems, but in terms of solutions. And what turns out to be the case? Cross-border exchange of information between authorities can put a neighbouring municipality in the right position to actually take action based on its administrative powers.
Despite differences in powers, there is an enormous willingness from all parties involved to cooperate where possible and exchange information across borders within the framework of administrative approach in order to tackle organised crime. A successful first meeting that will be continued. EURIEC will support this in the coming period.
In short: do not think in terms of problems, but in terms of possibilities!