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Transdisciplinary Discourses on Cross-Border Cooperation in Europe

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Edited By Joachim Beck

In the context of European integration, cross-border cooperation has become increasingly important. Following both the quantitative and qualitative expansion of this policy-field, it has repeatedly been the subject of scientific analysis in the past. However, as a result of the classical differentiation of the scientific system, it was mostly viewed from a monodisciplinary perspective. This publication aims at the foundation of a trans-disciplinary research approach in the field of European cross-border cooperation. It takes the multi-dimensional reality of practical territorial cooperation in Europe as a starting point and develops a transdisciplinary scientific approach. Based on a common analytic frame of reference, practical patterns of cross-border policy-making in different European border regions are analyzed from the integrated theoretical perspectives of various scientific disciplines: Political Science, Geography, Sociology, History, Law, Cultural Sciences and Socio-Linguistics, Economics and Administrative Science. The scientific conceptualizations are expanded by reports from practitioners coming from different institutional and functional levels of European cross-border policy-making.

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Borders and cross-border cooperation. A political and geographical point of view (Bernard Reitel / Fabienne Leloup)

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Borders and cross-border cooperation. A political and geographical point of view

Bernard REITEL, Fabienne LELOUP1

Introduction

Over the last few years, borders have been the focus of the attention in Europe, but while an image of openness and of obstacles being overcome prevailed in the 1990s, the idea of control and protection has now become crucial. However, the European Union is one of the regions in the world where the significance of the border, defined as a limit of sovereignty (Anderson, 1997), is more associated to an interface than to an obstacle (Sohn, 2014). The border, in a classical conventional sense, the Westphalian border, which is bound to the emergence of the nation-state, refers to the idea of a “territorial construction bringing distance into proximity” (Groupe Frontière, 2004). The border definitely appears as a political act with a social and spatial signification (Foucher, 1991).

During the last three decades, thanks mostly to the Interreg programs, the European institutions have fostered cross-border cooperation (CBC) initiatives on member states‘ borders (including at least the border of one member state). CBC is often considered as a part of international relations and defined as lasting relations between actors deploying spatial strategies on regional or local levels within “contiguous subnational units from two or more nation-states” (Perkman, Sum, 2002, p. 3) and it has undeniably a spatial dimension. Is cross-border cooperation a political act with a social and spatial component? If so,...

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