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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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Prospects of cross-border cooperation in Europe – some building blocks for a transdisciplinary research agenda (Joachim Beck / Birte Wassenberg)

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Prospects of cross-border cooperation in Europe – some building blocks for a transdisciplinary research agenda

Joachim BECK, Birte WASSENBERG

Cross-border cooperation in Europe finds itself currently at an interesting crossroad: on the one hand, the achievements of free mobility in Europe, and thus the elimination of the separating function of borders through debates on migration and its European management, is currently challenged. At least in current political discourses, cross-border cooperation is differentiated between an internal European perspective, in which free mobility and thus the elimination of borders is still a symbol of European integration, and an external perspective, in which tendencies of isolation and the closure or control of external borders represents an important starting point; in its internal perspective, cross-border cooperation is expected to be expanded or maintained while in the external relationship such cooperation might be rather reduced and restricted – two interrelated, however, not necessarily compatible approaches.

The second dimension of current debates on European cross-border cooperation relates to the question of what role cross-border areas can play in the future within the context of European integration. In particular, as part of the on-going programming work for Interreg VI, but also in the broader context of European governance, the promotion of integrated European policies within border regions is generally credited with an important pilot function for testing innovative European integration approaches. Recent initiatives of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional Development, such as the Border Obstacles Initiative described...

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