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Critical Dictionary on Borders, Cross-Border Cooperation and European Integration

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Edited By Birte Wassenberg and Bernard Reitel

This Critical Dictionary on Borders, Cross-Border Cooperation and European Integration is the first encyclopaedia which combines two so far not well interconnected interdisciplinary research fields, i.e. Border Studies and European Studies. Organised in an alphabetical order, it contains 207 articles written by 115 authors from different countries and scientific disciplines which are accompanied by 58 maps. The articles deal with theory, terminology, concepts, actors, themes and spaces of neighbourhood relations at European borders and in borderlands of and around the European Union (EU). Taking into account a multi-scale perspective from the local to the global, the Critical Dictionary follows a combined historical-geographical approach and is co-directed by Birte Wassenberg and Bernard Reitel, with a large contribution of Jean Peyrony and Jean Rubio from the Mission opérationnelle transfrontalère (MOT), especially for the cartography. The Dictionary is also part of four Jean Monnet activities supported by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union for the period 2016-2022: two Jean Monnet projects on EU border regions (University Strasbourg), one Jean Monnet network (Frontem) and the Franco-German Jean Monnet excellence Center in Strasbourg, as well as the Jean Monnet Chair of Bernard Reitel on borders and European integration. Rather than being designed as an objective compilation of facts and figures, it should serve as a critical tool for discussion between researchers, students and practitioners working in the field of borders, cross-border cooperation and European Integration.

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Straits as Cross-Border Territories

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The European Straits Initiative (ESI), launched in 2010 by Pas-de-Calais County Council and Kent County Council, brings together local government areas bordered by straits. Its aim is to emphasize the particularities of these territories and their role in territorial cohesion and in the European Union’s integrated maritime policy. The term ‘straits’ designates a narrow maritime passage between two land masses that links two seas. Straits provide both a division and a contact zone in both directions. They are unique and complex zones of land-to-sea interface. In order to comprehend them, longitudinal flow, latitudinal flow as well as the sea-zone itself must be taken into account.

Straits are almost always considered first as narrow maritime passages concentrating longitudinal flow. They offer more direct links and reduce transport durations by allowing long detours around continents and capes to be avoided. The Strait of Gibraltar, which has become strategic since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, has encouraged exchanges between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean by avoiding the long route through the Cape of Good Hope. Truly ‘gateways to the ocean’ and sometimes mandatory transit points, straits concentrate ever-increasing global flows. Due to the globalization of transactions and resultant increase in worldwide sea traffic, straits are a key issue in world trade. Straits are major axes for the convergence of energy flows and for transoceanic merchandise shipping lines. Located at the juncture of the main maritime routes, the straits of Gibraltar and of...

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