A one-stop-shop for foreign workers in Belgium (LIMOSA)

LIMOSA consists of a unique declaration of cross-border activities in Belgium to achieve an integrated service delivery and a monitoring system for the correct supervision of compliance with social regulations. In accordance with the European Directive 2006/123/EC of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market, the case encourages free movement of employees and the self-employed and aims to achieve administrative simplification for all parties involved. LIMOSA creates a one-stop-shop, where those concerned can post all their requests and declarations, which are automatically dispatched to the competent institutions.

Policy Context

All countries in Europe are facing an evolution towards further European integration (e.g. accession of several Eastern European countries to the European Union) and opening of the borders (free movement of services and workers). The provisions of articles 6 and 7 of the Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market are specifically dealt with in the LIMOSA-project. In these articles belonging to chapter II on 'Administrative Simplification', Member States must ensure that providers can complete (among others) all procedures and formalities needed for access to their service activities, in particular, all declarations, notifications or applications necessary for authorisation from the competent authorities, including applications for inclusion in a register, a roll or a database, through points of single contact. In the section on 'Right to information', Member States shall ensure that information on e.g. the requirements concerning the procedures and formalities to be completed in order to access and to exercise service activities is easily accessible through the above mentioned points of single contact. Without any doubt, the one-stop shop developed in the LIMOSA-project stands as a perfect example of this innovative and progressive approach and clearly demonstrates the anticipative vanguard spirit of the Belgian government in matters of eGovernment. The experience with this project will meaningly help the making and finetuning of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions that Member States are to adopt before 28 December 2009 in order to comply with this Directive. In Belgium, different authorities are qualified when it comes to international employment. Nevertheless, thanks to the business process re-engineering between all competent authorities, LIMOSA offers an integrated approach and a point of single contact, which doesn’t interfere with the allocation of functions among the authorities involved.

Description of target users and groups

LIMOSA applies to: 1) employees who normally work in a country other than Belgium or are recruited in a country other than Belgium, but who are employed in Belgium temporarily or partially by a non-Belgian employer, 2) self-employed persons who come to Belgium temporarily to exercise a self-employed activity, but do not stay here permanently, and 3) trainees if they do all or part of their apprenticeship in Belgium as part of a foreign study programme or vocational training.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The whole project was prepared, developed and implemented in close co-operation between all involved actors. Use was made of existing formal consultation bodies within the social sector for this purpose, such as the National Labour Council, the highest consultation body between the social discussion partners.

Technology solution

The case implies a major example of back-office integration, integrating all the relevant patches of information in one database and enhancing the coordination of electronic dataflows between all Belgian competent institutions. The system has been developed according to a layered, service oriented architecture. Moreover, by means of the established ‘user and access management light’-system, a person can easily follow the status of the processing of his requests. The Belgian federal government has chosen to use common policies and to offer an integrated user and access management system, enabling citizens and companies to identify and authenticate themselves at all public websites and portals. Furthermore, according to open standards, a policy enforcement model is implemented for the authentication of characteristics (e.g. a capacity, a function, a professional qualification) and mandates (between a legal or physical person to whom an electronic transaction relates and the person carrying out that transaction) and for authorization management. This system can easily be coupled to the usermanagement, implemented by each Member State (federated identity management). A link register will enable the matching of foreign id data with Belgian social security id data. Therefore, the existing architecture makes it perfectly possible to evolve to a Pan-European service.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Belgium is the first European nation to have created a one-stop shop for foreign employers and self-employed persons, rendering electronic and integrated services. Thanks to LIMOSA the Belgian authorities want to create better guarantees for the free movement of services and workers and optimize statistical information about cross-border employment on Belgian territory. Extra attention will be paid to everyone's rights and conditions of employment in Belgium. The employer will enjoy some major administrative benefits as a result of LIMOSA. By streamlining bureaucratic procedures, increasing public sector efficiency, and by reducing ‘red tape’, the transformation is crucial to respond to new societal challenges in an effective, efficient and democratic legitimate way. LIMOSA is really an important step to guarantee legal employment in Belgium with respect of the Belgian and European regulations. Proper execution of the LIMOSA declaration will make the administrative obligations for employers much easier, with regard, inter alia, to drawing up labour regulations, the personnel register and regulations to check up on part-time employees. Employers no longer have to do individual (salary) accounting and salary settlements for each pay period either, provided that they can submit similar salary documents that were drawn up in accordance with the law of the country of origin. In this way double salary administration is avoided. An international and multilingual (English, German, French, Dutch) portal site was set up with an easy access to the declaration webapplication and with tailor made information on other obligations when coming to work in Belgium (labour law, taxes, permits,..). The portal site plays an important part in this project. Immediately after each declaration via the website a LIMOSA-1 certificate is supplied. This certificate must be presented to the Belgian client or principal. In time this portal site will allow to fulfill almost all administrative obligations concerning working in Belgium via a single electronic portal enabling the foreign employer, employee or self-employed worker to declare his activities or request a work permit, residence permit, professional card, …. This site will then dispatch the request automatically to all Belgian federal or regional administrations involved (implying the unique collection and multiple use of data, and the exchange of data among the administrations), where a file will be opened. This way, foreign workers being sent on a mission to Belgium, will not be confronted anymore to the complex way Belgium is structured, as the competent (regional) services for awarding e.g. work permits and residence permits will be able to process the application much faster. LIMOSA is reducing costs, lowering the costs of paperflow processing and claim procedures. The system is fostering interoperability within European Union and enhancing interstate data exchange.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

There are a number of interesting components and architectures which were used in the development of this project, including a number of functionalities that are highly interesting in other environments. The Crossroads Bank for Social Security and the National Office for Social Security voluntarily offer this application to the European Commission and the other Members States as a basis for a possible pan-European social service. Additional information can be provided. On request, workshops, demonstrations and conferences can be organised. Far-reaching forms of co-operation are, after detailed consultation, among the possibilities. Most of the components belong to the Crossroads Bank for Social Security and the National Office for Social Security, so that the potential for intensive knowledge sharing is given. The advantages related to this pan-European social service are numerous. Thus foreign employers, employees, self-employed persons and trainees would have at their disposal a system of multifunctional declaration through all Member States, available 24h on 24 and 7 days a week, offered in the language of each one and making use of the national services (portal sites, system of identification and authentication, etc). LIMOSA has proved to be a project that combines administrative simplification, innovation and userfriendliness. Germany, France and Lithuania have so far shown intrest to implement a similar system and were presented the case.

Lessons learnt

The realised project contains important lessons for every government that strives to improve its services towards the users and especially towards companies, through an adaptation of internal and external processes with the help of modern technologies: Lesson 1 - Make sure that available ICT components and information are re-used to a maximum. Use already existing networks, means of electronic identification, authentication and authorisation, interoperability frameworks and their accompanying basic services, portal environments, and the electronic information that is accessible from validated databases inside and outside of government. Through this, the efforts can be directed towards developing services with an added value, which are based on process improvements, while the multifunctional use of the same components is assured for all. Lesson 2 - Attune the service offer maximally to the needs and the logic of the users and involve them actively in the development of the services. Match the governmental processes with the own processes of the users. Assure user-friendliness. Lesson 3 - Make sure that the users have confidence in the electronic services that are provided. Develop an information security policy, which is designed to guarantee the availability, confidentiality, integrity, authenticity and auditability of the information systems.

Scope: International
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