Frontier Workers in the European Union

Directorate General for Research
Social Affairs Series
- W 16A -




  2. 1.1. The concepts of cross-border work
    1.2. Freedom of movement, equal treatment and social protection of frontier workers in the EU
    1.3. Tax arrangements applicable to cross-border work
    1.4. Cross-border tax equalization

  4. 2.1. Methodological note
    2.2. Results of quantitative analysis

  6. 3.1. Social security
    3.2. Direct taxation
    3.3. Interaction between direct taxation and social security
    3.4. Temporary tax-free importation of vehicles
    3.5. Lack of information and administrative cooperation
    3.6. The status of frontier workers in Switzerland

Annex 1: Frontier worker statistics

Annex 2: Summary of the main bilateral double-taxation agreements

Annex 3: Tax and social security arrangements for frontier workers in the EU


The purpose of this study is to outline the situation and the obstacles to the free movement of employed frontier workers in the European Union and also, on account of their human and numerical importance, of Community citizens who, while residing in the Union, commute to work, again as employed persons, in Switzerland or else in the Principality of Monaco, San Marino, etc. Given that Switzerland is host to almost half the frontier workers in Europe (around 150 000, according to our estimates), the social security and tax regimes for frontier residents employed there, and the arrangements for access to the labour market, have been analysed.

The research was carried out on the basis of current and pending national and Community legislation, documents made available to us by organizations representing frontier workers at local level, and existing literature in this field. From the outset, petitions submitted to the European Parliament, written parliamentary questions to the Council and the Commission and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in this field proved to be very important in ascertaining the obstacles to cross-border mobility.

The study comprises three parts. The first chapter is devoted to determining the rules, particularly tax and social security rules, affecting cross-border work. The second chapter provides a quantitative survey of the phenomenon in Western Europe. Finally, the third chapter contains a systematic analysis of the practical and legislative obstacles impinging, for each national frontier, on the cross- border mobility of paid work.

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What distinguishes frontier workers from traditional migrant workers is the fact of living in one State and working in another. The migrant worker leaves his country of origin completely, with or without his family, to live and work in a different country. The frontier worker, by contrast, has a dual national allegiance, stemming from his place of residence and his place of work.

However, it is impossible to produce a clear concept embodying objective criteria defining cross- border work. The concept actually covers different circumstances, depending on whether one takes the Community meaning (set out, in particular, in connection with social security) or the various definitions included in bilateral double-taxation agreements (used for determining the tax arrangements applicable to frontier workers).

Under Community rules, the term 'frontier worker' means any worker who pursues his occupation in the territory of a Member State and resides in the territory of another Member State (political criterion) to which he returns as a rule daily or at least once a week (time criterion)(1).This definition, however, which apart from the intrinsic element of travel from home to work across a frontier retains the time criterion of a daily or weekly return home, only applies to social protection of the workers concerned within the European Union.

Where tax is concerned, by contrast, bilateral double-taxation agreements determining the tax arrangements applicable to frontier workers use more restrictive definitions which additionally impose a spatial criterion, whereby the fact of living and working in a frontier zone stricto sensu, the definition of which varies from one tax agreement to another, is deemed to be one of the elements constituting the concept of cross-border work.

The first problem is thus the lack of a uniform definition of cross-border work which, depending on the criteria used, may lead in practice to the identification of various population groups.

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Frontier workers residing and working in the European Union benefit, like all migrant workers, from the principle of non-discrimination and equal treatment applicable to workers moving within the territory of the Union. More specifically, Article 7 of Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community(2) provides for equality of treatment in respect of any conditions of employment and work, in particular as regards remuneration, dismissal and, should workers become unemployed, reinstatement or re-employment. Where labour law is concerned, frontier workers, like migrant workers, are subject to the legislation of the country of employment. Under Article 7(2) of the same Regulation, they enjoy the same social and tax advantages as national workers.

Where social protection is concerned, the principles and arrangements applicable to frontier workers are the same, except for a few specific details, as those generally applicable to all migrant workers within the European Community(3).

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71(4), coordinating the social security systems of the Member States, and its implementing regulation, Council Regulation (EEC) No 574/72(5), include, inter alia, specific provisions concerning certain benefits for frontier workers. They are therefore granted, as a matter of principle, advantages that other migrant workers do not enjoy, such as cross-border access to health care. Nevertheless, the problems that they encounter, in view of their social and family status, are not necessarily associated with their status as frontier workers. Instead, they are problems common to other groups of migrants - arising in particular from the differences between national laws and from the complete lack of coordination between national systems of non-statutory supplementary schemes, especially as regards pensions - which frontier workers experience more urgently and more acutely since their situation means that they are in the front line where the application of European social security law is concerned.

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Given the absence of a specific Community competence(6), the tax arrangements to which frontier workers are subject are entirely dependent on bilateral taxation agreements signed by European States with the aim of avoiding double taxation of trans-national income. The rules and criteria which they lay down vary from agreement to agreement; they may provide that frontier workers are taxed in their State of residence (e.g. the Franco-Belgian double taxation agreement), in the State where they work (e.g. the agreement between the Netherlands and Germany) or in both simultaneously (the agreement between Switzerland and Germany).

Where income is earned from cross-border work, several States may, by virtue of their own sovereignty in tax matters, claim the right to levy tax on that income in accordance with their relevant legislation. In order to avoid such trans-national income being taxed twice (double taxation), most European States have concluded bilateral tax agreements, which are mostly standardized in line with the OECD model convention, on the double taxation of income and capital. While the general rule laid down in the OECD model for the case of a person living in one State but working in another is that of taxation in the place of work(7), the specific provisions concerning cross-border work in bilateral double taxation treaties mostly grant the right of taxation to the State of residence rather than the State of the place of work when the subject lives in the frontier region of one State and works in the frontier region of another, provided that the person concerned returns home regularly. If the place of residence and/or that of work are located outside the frontier zone, by contrast, the income from work is taxed at source, i.e. in the country of work.

In the latter case, the frontier worker's employer deducts, for the benefit of the State of employment, the amount of tax due according to the system laid down by that country's tax legislation. If the fiscal household has other sources of income in the country of residence, in particular as a result of work by the spouse, the 'effective rate' rule may be applied: the State of residence than reserves the right to take into account the amount of trans-national remuneration when calculating the effective rate of tax payable on the other income of the person concerned(8).

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In the specific case of frontier workers, the burden of public expenditure falls on two States, while the resources, stemming from income tax, in principle accrue only to one of them under the agreements to avoid double taxation.

In these circumstances, cross-border tax equalization entails the sharing of tax resources with the aim of eliminating the imbalance between the expenditure and resources of the local authorities located on both sides of the border which are affected by the problem of frontier workers.

Such financial equalization, originally used between cantons in Switzerland, has successfully been exported and used, subject to different arrangements, in a number of bilateral tax agreements signed by Switzerland. It may take the form of a payment to the other State, as part of the implementation of a bilateral agreement, of a percentage of the gross or net total amount of wages and salaries paid to frontier workers, as in the Franco-Swiss system, or a percentage of the tax collected, as in the Italo-Swiss system. Finally, in the Austro-Swiss system and that used between Germany and Switzerland, each State charges tax on the remuneration of frontier workers within clearly defined limits.

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Accurate quantitative analysis of the cross-border phenomenon presents major difficulties, owing to the lack of reliable statistics.

There are, in fact, no recent Europe-wide figures, compiled on the basis of a standardized, harmonized system. No accurate figures are held by the European Community, the OECD or the Council of Europe.

At national level, no comparable periodic surveys are carried out in the various countries. The sources and reference years for those figures which are available differ widely: the published figures are often variable between one country and another, and even within the same country, depending on the authorities which have compiled them (social security agencies, employment offices, tax offices, etc.).

By and large, the data available come mainly from the processing of figures provided by social security, population censuses and, for European frontier workers working in Switzerland, from the figures of the Central Aliens Office in Berne.

Social security sources have one major limitation, however: they underestimate the statistics. It needs to be borne in mind, for example, that in some countries employees earning more than a given maximum or less than a given minimum are not subject to compulsory sickness insurance and are therefore not included in the statistics. This is the case in Germany and the Netherlands, for example.

The analysis was carried out on the basis of existing bibliographical and statistical sources.

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Notwithstanding the huge variations in the figures, depending on the sources used and the economic situation that can be envisaged each year in the various countries, we believe that on the basis of the information collected it is possible to reach the conclusions set out in Tables I and II.

It can be seen that the phenomenon of cross-border workers is undoubtedly of economic, social and human significance for nine European countries. Five countries - France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Austria - may be regarded as the most important 'suppliers' where cross-border labour is concerned. Five countries - Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Monaco and the Netherlands - are the main importers.

France has a clear lead as the main 'exporter' of cross-border labour in Europe: there are around 179 000 French nationals living in France and working abroad. Their biggest employer is Switzerland (74 000 in 1995), but they also work in Germany (45 000 in 1995), Luxembourg (27 800 in 1995) and Monaco (around 18 000 in 1994). France is followed by Italy, with around 40 000 cross-border workers, most of whom work in Switzerland.

Despite the recession in recent years, Switzerland provides work for almost half of all the cross- border workers in Europe (around 151 000 in 1995, according to the Federal Aliens Office).

Switzerland is followed by Germany, which provides work for nearly 78 000 cross-border workers from neighbouring countries, mainly from France and, to a less extent, the Netherlands and Austria. There is, even so, a fairly substantial number of German residents working abroad, mainly in Switzerland (around 31 000 in 1995).

As a result of its geographical situation Luxembourg is the third-largest importer of cross-border labour in Europe, employing 54 000 cross-border workers from France (27 800), Belgium (16 600) and Germany (9 800) in 1995.

Belgian cross-border workers work mainly in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent in France and Germany: nearly 39 000 travel to work on a daily or weekly basis. The Principality of Monaco is also a significant host country, employing nearly 30 000 cross-border workers in 1993.

As the figures show, the main cross-border movements are virtually in one direction only.

The peripheral regions of the European Union, to the North (the Scandinavian countries) and South (towards the Iberian peninsula) are less significant in terms of cross-border work, either because of the geographical configuration of the area concerned, or because of specific features of the local labour market.

If all the data collected about cross-border movements in Western Europe are put together, we arrive at a total of around 380 000 cross-border workers, on average, over the period 1990-1995, who commute from their country of residence to another country to work(9).

If it is borne in mind that the total working population in the European Union was 148 million in 1995, it is easy to calculate that this figure accounts for only 0.26% of the total. The cross-border element of the labour market is nonetheless crucial for the local development of certain frontier regions (e.g. the Saar-Lor-Lux-Trier/Palatinate region, or the Meuse-Rhine Euregio, straddling Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands). On the other hand, the quantitative aspect alone of cross- border movements cannot justify the attention paid to the phenomenon, which is more significant in terms of indicating the progress and limitations of European integration, in connection with the achievement of freedom of movement for people.

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A comparative analysis of the obstacles to the cross-border mobility of paid employment has shown that those set out below are of major importance for frontier workers in the European Union.

a) Social security:

b) Direct taxation:

c) Interaction between the tax and social security systems of the Member States:

d) Company cars:

e) Lack of proper information for frontier workers and of cooperation between the competent national authorities (role of the EURES network and cross-border social dialogue).

Finally, other issues associated with the completion of the single market, such as indirect taxation, controls on natural persons at the Union's internal borders and cross-border transfers, particularly affect frontier workers, who are the pioneers of European integration.

To end with, there is an analysis of the situation of frontier workers employed in Switzerland.

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Since Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 merely set up a mechanism for coordinating, but not harmonizing, social security systems in the European Union, gaps remain where the approximation of statutory social security schemes are concerned, and they therefore continue to vary substantially from one Member State to another. Problems arise as a result of these divergences and, in particular, from the lack of a common definition of the criteria for granting benefits. For example, the lack of a common definition of the concept of incapacity for work and differences in the assessment of degrees of disability cause difficulties(10), as does the diversity of the systems used to calculate the number of years of contributions which are taken into account and the age requirements for granting statutory pensions(11).

Furthermore, the Regulation, the procedure for modifying which requires unanimity within the Council (legal basis: Articles 51 and 235 of the EC Treaty), does not duly take into account the introduction, in some Member States, of new types of social benefits which may not correspond to the traditional branches of social security that appear in the Regulation itself (e.g. long-term care insurance in Germany(12)).

Finally, since the Community coordinating system introduced by Regulation (EC) No 1408/71 does not cover contractual social security schemes(13), there is a complete lack of coordination of national systems of non-statutory schemes, particularly as regards pre-retirement benefits(14) and supplementary pensions, entailing the non-exportability of the corresponding benefits.

Where access to cross-border health care is concerned, the members of frontier workers' families are entitled to this provided that an agreement to that effect exists between the States concerned or between the competent authorities of those States; retired frontier workers and members of their families, by contrast, have no such entitlement(15). Several complaints(16) have been made to the European institutions on this subject.

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Where the taxation of frontier workers in the country where they work is concerned, most Member States apply different arrangements from those applicable to residents, namely what are known as non-resident arrangements. Such arrangements very frequently entail higher taxation than that imposed on persons pursuing the same occupation in their country of residence, and make no provision either for the tax benefits granted to residents on the basis of their family situation, or for the various deductions for which residents qualify, the idea being that such benefits should be granted by the country of residence(17). At the same time, such frontier workers are also ineligible for the corresponding benefits in their country of residence, owing to the absence or inadequacy of taxable income there.

This situation, and likewise the lack of coordination of legislation on direct taxation, is limited by the fact that it runs counter to the principle of non-discrimination, which has now been upheld in the tax field, as in others, by the Court of Justice of the European Communities on the basis, in particular, of Articles 48 and 52 of the EC Treaty(18).

At Community level, the concept of 'direct effect' on the establishment of the common market found in Article 100 of the EC Treaty has so far restricted the opportunities for the Commission to act. Following the failure of its 1979 proposal(19) (withdrawn in 1992) concerning the harmonization of income taxation provisions with respect to freedom of movement for workers within the Community, in which it introduced the principle of taxation of all frontier workers in their country of residence, in 1993 it addressed a Recommendation to the Member States(20) on the taxation of certain items of income received by non-residents in a Member State other than that in which they are resident, with the aim of ensuring non-discriminatory taxation of frontier workers who receive at least 75% of their total income in the State where they work and who are taxed there. Several Member States have already adopted the substance of the Recommendation(21).

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In the increasing trend, in the majority of the Member States, towards using tax receipts to help finance social security systems, the interaction between direct taxation arrangements and the financing of national social security systems is probably the number one problem specifically affecting cross-border work, in cases where social security contributions are paid in one country and tax is paid in another(22). A frontier worker may thus either pay social security contributions twice over (this is the case with Italian or Belgian residents working in France(23)) or else pay very little in contributions (the opposite hypothesis).

The Community rules on coordination are not concerned with the financial aspects of social security. The principle for the resolution of disputes that they lay down is that of payment of contributions and benefits according to the legislation of the competent country, i.e. the country of the place of work. In this way, owing to the fact that in recent years Member States have increasingly moved towards financing their social security systems from sources other than contributions (especially tax receipts), measures to transfer the burden of contributions from employers to States and from States to individuals in each country result in frontier workers being subject to new disparities, which often take the form of double contributions or else the disappearance of benefits(24). Belgian frontier workers employed in the Netherlands, for example, are having to pay increased social contributions in the country where they work without being able to benefit from the corresponding reduction in direct tax there. The tax and social premium reforms introduced in the Netherlands in 1994, which entailed a substantial increase in social security contributions, offset by a reduction in the tax on earned income - followed by further tax cuts on 1 January 1995 - led to a considerable loss of income for Belgian frontier workers, who are liable to tax in their country of residence(25).

In addition, the frequently ambiguous nature (either tax contributions or social contributions) of some of these forms of social security finance has prompted national governments to see it as providing the opportunity to impose such payments both on those affiliated to the national social security system and on those living in the country who are affiliated to the social security system of another Member State. This results in frontier workers paying social contributions and receiving social security benefits in the country where they are employed, while additionally contributing to the financing of the social security system of their country of residence, where they pay tax. This is the case, for example, with French frontier workers(26), who are required to pay the Generalized Social Contribution (known as the CSG) and, as from 1997, the Contribution to the Repayment of the Social Debt (CRDS) in France(27).

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There are two kinds of problem concerning the use by frontier workers of vehicles registered in a Member State other than the one in which they live(28). First, there is the general problem of double taxation of a vehicle registered in a Member State which is not that of the owner's customary residence(29): motor vehicle taxation has not been coordinated at European level to any significant extent. The second question which specifically faces frontier workers, and which is linked to the first, is that of free movement in their country of residence with a company car which has been purchased and registered in the State where the company which employs them has its registered office.

A whole series of petitions has been addressed to the European Parliament by frontier workers (particularly those commuting between Germany and Denmark) who in their State of residence are prevented from using, or face double taxation on, cars purchased and registered in the State where they work, particularly when these belong to the companies which employ them. The competent authorities of some Member States permit frontier workers to use company cars solely for the purpose of travelling directly, and by the shortest route, from their homes to the border adjacent to their places of work, thereby prohibiting them from using company cars for any work-related travel on national territory or for secondary private travel, despite the fact that these two uses form part of the remuneration benefits granted by their employers.


Throughout Europe, the problems encountered by frontier workers are aggravated by the lack of proper information for those concerned and, above all, by the lack of cooperation and reciprocal information between the competent national authorities. For example, when the new Franco-Italian taxation agreement, which introduced the principle of taxation of frontier workers in the country of residence, came into force, Italian frontier workers were suddenly confronted with the requirement to declare their French income to the Italian tax authorities, without having being informed about this. This prompted the Italian direct taxation authorities to declare them in breach of the requirement to declare their cross-border income and to demand the payment of a fine of 431% of the amount due. The French tax authorities, for their part, even after the new tax agreement was ratified, continued to levy tax at source on the pay of frontier workers who were now liable to tax in Italy. Similarly, the procedure for granting a request for the payment of a pension abroad often takes more than two years between the Netherlands and Germany, and this causes serious social protection problems for those entitled to widows' and orphans' pensions, total incapacity pensions and accident pensions. Such examples can be found many times over.

The EURES service(30) is a European network responsible for developing the exchange of information and cooperation laid down in Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 on freedom of movement for workers, particularly with regard to information about the labour market in other Member States and about living and working conditions abroad (including tax arrangements and social legislation). Specific structures for frontier regions exist within the EURES network: cross-border EURES networks, focussing on specific zones of employment in which there are major cross-border labour movements. The specific feature differentiating them from other EURES networks is their multilateral nature, since they involve local social operators, trade unions and employers, as well as public-sector employment services. Their activities are always closely linked to those of the inter-regional trade union councils (of which there are currently 33), these being coordinated by the European Trade Union Confederation.

There are currently 13 cross-border EURES networks, and four others are being developed.

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The situation of frontier workers living in the European Union and travelling to work in the Swiss Confederation exhibits major differences from that of frontier workers working and residing within the European Union(31).

While their status within the European Union is based on freedom of movement, as defined in the Treaty of Rome, in the form of confirmation of the principle of non-discrimination between frontier workers and nationals, Switzerland operates a system of residence and employment based on the work permit. Work permits are generally granted for one year and contain stipulations regarding pay, which may not be less than the cantonal minimum laid down by the Cantonal Employment Office. A permit is granted only if a worker has already found an employer and after it has been checked that no-one on the local register of job-seekers has requested that type of work. It may be renewed for the same period on expiry, but the worker may not change either employer or occupation without permission from the cantonal authorities. The granting of work permits in each canton is subject to a minimum quota of Swiss workers in each firm(32).

The most important problems encountered by frontier workers working in Switzerland concern social protection, and are essentially as indicated below(33).

Where sickness insurance is concerned, frontier workers residing in a European Union country and employed in Switzerland, together with their families, may subscribe to the compulsory system laid down by the Swiss Confederation for all residents. This system was recently thoroughly overhauled by the Federal law of March 1994 (LAMAL), which came into force on 1 January 1996. The new legislation, while introducing a residence requirement for entitlement to sickness insurance benefits, stipulates that sickness insurance for frontier workers ends on retirement or in the event of total unemployment, and in any event on termination of gainful occupation in Switzerland. This means that the status of former frontier worker no longer exists: as soon as a frontier worker loses his job, he will automatically lose the benefit of his Swiss insurance and will have to take steps in his State of residence to secure new insurance cover.

Total unemployment of frontier workers who have paid contributions in Switzerland: the level of benefits is not calculated directly from actual earnings, but on the basis of a reference amount corresponding to the pay for equivalent employment in the country of residence. This produces a figure which is substantially less than the worker's real pay, despite that having been the basis of his contributions. This problem is particularly acute for Italian(34) and French frontier workers.

Swiss invalidity pension: frontier workers receive social benefits and refunds only for disorders associated with the disability (ordinary pensions). For the rest (special pensions, to which residents are entitled), individuals must secure their own social insurance cover with a private mutual association, either in Switzerland or in their country of residence. In addition, a disability which arises a year after any employment in Switzerland has ceased does not give any entitlement to benefits.

Old-age survivors' insurance: the scheme used is the AVS, the second revision of which came into force on 1 January 1997. This revision has replaced the 'couple's pension', the calculation of which did not take into account the spouse's place of residence, by an individual pension for each spouse and introduced, instead of the former, new care allowances, eligibility for which is subject to residence in Switzerland. In addition, a frontier worker who has paid less than a year's contributions in Switzerland is not entitled to an old-age pension, nor to a refund of the contributions paid to the AVS. Moreover, despite paying contributions like any employee resident in the Swiss Confederation, frontier workers do not receive certain old-age and invalidity benefits, which remain subject to residence in Switzerland(35).

Annex 1



Country of residenceHost countryFrontier workers
SwedenFinland1000 (1995)
NorwaySweden2210 (1990)
DenmarkSweden480 (1995)
SwedenDenmark1475 (1995)
DenmarkGermany1180 (1994)
GermanyDenmark1015 (1994)
Northern IrelandIreland3300 (1996)
IrelandNorthern Ireland13 300 (1996)
NetherlandsGermany15 470 (1994)
GermanyNetherlands1350 (1994)
BelgiumNetherlands13 256 (1995)
NetherlandsBelgium3600 (1995)
BelgiumGermany3948 (1995)
GermanyBelgium470 (1995)
Great BritainFrance381 (1993)
FranceGreat Britain346 (1994)
FranceBelgium12 000 (1995)
BelgiumFrance5600 (1995)
FranceLuxembourg27 800 (1995)
BelgiumLuxembourg16 600 (1995)
GermanyLuxembourg9800 (1995)
FranceGermany45 000 (1995)
FranceSwitzerland73 940 (1995)
ItalySwitzerland36 558 (1995)
GermanySwitzerland31 129 (1995)
SwitzerlandGermany1000 (1995)
AustriaSwitzerland8270 (1995)
AustriaGermany12 000 (1991)
GermanyAustria1459 (1987)
AustriaLiechtenstein4000 (1991)
ItalyAustria596 (1991)
AustriaItaly100 (1991)
ItalyFrance1700 (1995)
FranceItaly280 (1990)
ItalyMonaco5000 (1995)
FranceMonaco17 925 (1994)
ItalySan Marino3302 (1995)
SpainFrance2000 (1990)
FranceSpain500 (1990)
FranceAndorra815 (1990)


Note: the sources for these figures are given in Chapter 2 of the study.


Host countryCountry of originNumberTotals
SwitzerlandFrance73 940 (1995) 
 Italy36 558 (1995) 
 Germany31 129 (1995) 
 Austria8270 (1995)149 897
GermanyNetherlands15 470 (1994) 
 Belgium3948 (1995) 
 France45 000 (1995) 
 Austria12 000 (1991) 
 Denmark1180 (1994)77 598
LuxembourgFrance27 800 (1995) 
 Belgium16 600 (1995) 
 Germany9800 (1995)54 200
MonacoFrance17 925 (1994) 
 Italy5000 (1995)22 925
BelgiumFrance11 006 (1993) 
 Netherlands3600 (1995) 
 Germany470 (1995)15 076
NetherlandsBelgium13 256 (1995) 
 Germany1350 (1994)14 606
FranceBelgium6301 (1993) 
 Italy1700 (1995) 
 Spain2000 (1990)10 031

Note: the sources for these figures are given in Chapter 2 of the study.

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Annex 2


Luxembourg-GermanyTaxation at source. No frontier zone. No specific provisions regarding cross-border work23.8.1958 and supplementary protocol of 15.6.1973, Article 10
Luxembourg-BelgiumTaxation at source. No frontier zone17.9.1970, Article 15(1) and (2)
Luxembourg-FranceTaxation at source. No frontier zone1.4.1958, amended 8.9.1970
France-GermanyTaxation in the State of residence if employment and residence are located in the frontier zone (30 km on the German side and the departments of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle on the French side for French frontier workers and 20 km for German frontier workers), otherwise taxation at source21.7.1959 and additional agreement of 28.9.1989, Article 13
France-BelgiumTaxation in the place of residence; frontier zone of 20 km on each side of the border, expressed in a list of frontier communes. Requirement to produce a 'frontier worker's card' in order to be considered as such15.2.1971, Article 11(2)
France-ItalyTaxation in the State of residence. French departments and Italian regions adjacent to the border included in the frontier zone5.10.1989, Article 15
France-SpainTaxation in the State of residence if employment and work are in the 10 km frontier zone, expressed in a list of communes annexed to the 1961 Agreement27.6.1973, Article 15

1961 Special Agreement, Articles 1-5

France-SwitzerlandTwo different cases: taxation at source for frontier workers employed or residing in the canton of Geneva; taxation in the State of residence for frontier workers employed or residing in cantons adjacent to France, with the exception of Geneva9.9.1966; agreement of 29.1.1973 for frontier workers employed in Geneva and agreement of 11.4.1983, Article 1, for other cantons
Switzerland-GermanyTaxation in the place of residence, frontier zone of 30 km on each side of the border, expressed in a list of districts. The 1992 additional protocol provides for 4.5% to be withheld at source with effect from 1.1.199411.8.1971, Article 15, and additional protocol of 21.12.1992
Switzerland-AustriaTaxation in the place of residence, with the possibility of tax-sharing: levy at source, in Switzerland, of 1% of the total amount paid in wages and salaries, with deduction of residence tax (right reserved to the cantons)30.1.1974, Article 15
Switzerland-ItalyTaxation at source in the canton of Ticino,

20 km frontier zone

Italy-AustriaTaxation in the country of residence if residence and employment are 'close to the frontier'. No definition of frontier zone29.6.1981, Article 15
Belgium-GermanyTaxation in the country of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone (list of communes on both sides of the border, intersected by a line 20 km from the border), otherwise taxation at source11.4.1967, Article 15(3), and protocol annexed to the agreement
Belgium-NetherlandsTaxation in the State of residence, provided that employment and residence are in the frontier zone (list of communes on the Belgian side and list of regions on the Dutch side), otherwise taxation at source. Exception: Dutch nationals residing in Belgium since 1970 are still taxed in the Netherlands (place of work)19.10.1970, Article 15(3), and annexed protocol, paragraphs IX and X
Netherlands-GermanyTaxation in the State of the place of work. The personal and family situation of a frontier worker is only taken into account if at least 90% of his total income (which must account for 90% of combined household income if he is married) is derived from sources taxed in the State of the place of work16.6.1959 and additional agreement of 13.3.1980, Article 1
Germany-AustriaTaxation in the State of residence, provided that employment and residence are located in the frontier zone of 30 km on each side of the border, otherwise taxation in the State of the place of work4.10.1954 and additional agreement of 8.7.1992, Article 9, and paragraph 24 of the protocol annexed thereto
Germany-DenmarkTaxation in the State of the place of work: no specific provisions regarding cross-border work30.1.1962, Article 9(1) and (2)
United Kingdom- Republic of IrelandTaxation in the State of the place of work, non-exclusive2.6.1976
United Kingdom-FranceTaxation in the State of residence21.6.1963
Spain-PortugalTaxation in the State of residence. No concept of frontier zone (which existed, however, in the previous agreement of 29.5.1968)26.10.1993, Article 15
Denmark-SwedenTaxation in the State of the place of work. No definition of frontier zone, but primary work for at least 6 months (183-day rule) during the relevant tax year 
Finland-Sweden, Norway-Finland and Norway-SwedenTaxation in the State of residence, provided residence is in a frontier commune between Finland and Sweden or Finland and Norway12.12.1989

Nordic Tax Treaty

Paragraph VII of the protocol annexed thereto

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Annex 3


Luxembourg-GermanyTaxation and social contributions in the country of work
  • Application of the 'effective rate' rule for the taxation of cross-border income
  • Age of retirement
Luxembourg-BelgiumTaxation and social contributions in the country of work
  • 'Effective rate' rule for the taxation of cross-border income
  • Different qualifying periods for moving from sickness insurance to invalidity insurance
  • Suspension of employment contract owing to force majeure
  • Supplementary local tax
Luxembourg-FranceTaxation and social contributions in the country of work
  • 'Effective rate' rule for the taxation of cross-border income
  • Age of retirement
  • Supplementary pension
France-GermanyTaxation in the country of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone, otherwise taxation at source
  • Rule of offsetting French tax against foreign tax when cross-border income is taxed at source
  • CRDS and CSG in France
  • Long-term care insurance in Germany
  • Age of retirement
  • Different criteria for invalidity
  • Cross-border health care for family members of those in pre-retirement
France-BelgiumTaxation in the place of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone

In Belgium: high direct taxation and low social deductions (13%)

In France: low direct taxation and high social deductions (18-24%)

Result: double social charging of Belgian frontier workers working in France (they pay social contributions in France and income tax in Belgium)

  • CRDS and CSG in France; special social security contribution in Belgium
  • Family allowances for Belgian frontier workers in France
  • Special social security contribution in Belgium
  • Pre-retirement benefit (residence requirement)
  • Early retirement and supplementary pension in France
  • Career break in Belgium
  • Cross-border health care for retired frontier workers
France-ItalyTaxation in the State of residence if residence and employment are in the frontier zone

In Italy: high direct taxation (22% of gross pay) and low social deductions

In France: low direct taxation and high social deductions (18-24%)

Result: double social charging of Italian frontier workers working in France (they pay social contributions in France and income tax in Italy)

  • CSG and CRDS in France
  • Full unemployment benefit for Italian frontier workers in France
France-SpainTaxation in the State of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone 
Italy-AustriaTaxation in the State of residence if residence and employment are 'close to the frontier' 
Belgium-GermanyTaxation in the country of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone
  • Long-term care insurance in Germany
  • Invalidity pensions in Germany
  • Suspension of employment contract owing to force majeure
  • Access to cross-border health care for retired frontier workers
Belgium-NetherlandsTaxation in the State of residence if employment and residence are in the frontier zone - exception: Dutch nationals resident in Belgium since 1970 are still taxed in the Netherlands (place of work)

Very high taxation in Belgium and heavy social contributions in the Netherlands (31.2%), the latest increase in which has recently been offset by a reduction in the rate of direct taxation (7.05%): Belgian frontier workers pay twice for social security

  • Social security premiums are net in Belgium and heavy in the Netherlands: not deductible in the latter
  • Family allowances and sickness insurance for Belgians employed in the Netherlands
  • Criteria for calculating retirement pensions
  • Supplementary pension in the Netherlands
  • No 'birth premium' in the Netherlands
Netherlands-GermanyDirect taxation and social contributions in the State of the place of work
  • The family situation of frontier workers is only taken into account if at least 90% of their total income is taxable in the State of the place of work
  • 'Effective rate' rule
  • Long-term insurance in Germany
  • Sickness insurance and invalidity insurance for Dutch frontier workers in Germany
  • Supplementary pension
Germany-AustriaTaxation in the State of residence provided that employment and residence are located in the frontier zone 
Germany-DenmarkTaxation and social contributions in the State of the place of work-Early-retirement schemes
United Kingdom- Republic of IrelandNon-exclusive direct taxation - either in the State of work or in the country of residence (Republic of Ireland) - by direct debit; social contributions in the State of the place of work

In the Republic of Ireland: high direct taxation and low social deductions (4.5%)

In Northern Ireland: low direct taxes, high social deductions (8.5%) and wages and salaries 20% lower than in the Republic of Ireland

Consequence: double social charging of Irish frontier workers working in Northern Ireland, who pay social contributions there and pay income tax either there or, where the surplus is concerned, in the Republic of Ireland

-Civil-service frontier workers in Northern Ireland
Spain-PortugalTaxation in the State of residence; no concept of 'frontier zone' 
Finland-SwedenTaxation in the State of residence provided that residence is in a frontier communeCross-border health care for retired frontier workers
Denmark-SwedenTaxation and social contributions in the country of work

European Parliament: 05/1997