Is it possible to move to a house across the street and emigrate at the same time? Yes, it is possible: in the province of Limburg in the southeast of the Netherlands in the cross-border municipality Eurode that comprises Dutch Kerkrade and German Herzogenrath. Statistics Netherlands announced this week that many Dutch people who emigrate to Herzogenrath come from Kerkrade.
Although emigration often involves moving long distances, it also comprises moves that are little more than domestic home removals. The latter are also called semigration. As this semigration takes place within the region, it has little impact on the daily lives of the people involved. The case of Kerkrade and Herzogenrath illustrates how fine the line can be between moving house and emigrating; these two cities - on the either side of the Dutch-German border have been merged to one municipality.
Eurode, cross-border municipality
Kerkrade is a city of around 45 thousand inhabitants in the very southeast of the Netherlands. Herzogenrath, which also has a population of around 45 thousand, is the most western municipality of its region in Germany. Kerkrade is located in the Dutch province of Limburg, Herzogenrath in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia. In geographical terms, the two municipalities are connected, with the Nieuwstraat/Neustrasse forming the border.
The two municipalities combined to constitute the public body Eurode in 1997. Eurode is set to become the first cross-border municipality in Europe. While Kerkrade is one of the medium-sized municipalities of the Netherlands, Eurode nearly fulfils the criteria of being a municipality with over 100 thousand inhabitants - which the government has set as the future minimum size for a municipality – were it not for the national border running through it.
Emigration from the Netherlands to Herzogenrath
If an inhabitant of Kerkrade moves to the other side of Nieuwstraat – to Neustrasse – official statistics will record this as emigration, if he moves to a house on the same side of the street is will be categorised as a domestic move.
Semigration is extensive in the area. Nearly two-thirds of the 129 Dutch migrants moving to Herzogenrath in 2012 came from Kerkrade. Another quarter came from Limburg, only 10 percent came from other municipalities in the Netherlands.
The example of Kerkrade-Herzogenrath shows that border migration is a relative phenomenon. In national migration statistics, emigration from Kerkrade to faraway destinations are treated in the same way as emigration from Kerkrade to Herzogenrath. The example of Eurode illustrates that there is a case for charting moves just across the border in more detail to be able to describe national international migration patterns more accurately.