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


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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Since 1945, civil society actors or representatives of municipalities and regions of all sizes have established contacts, developed exchanges and fostered bonds with European partners of their kind across national borders. These contacts, often resulting from grassroots initiatives, have offered many Europeans a chance to meet, congregate, exchange and experience Europe at their level and in a personal way. In this sense, town-twinning has noticeably contributed to the European integration process. Since the late 1980s, the same could be said about the Interreg programs which were conceived and implemented to mitigate the effect of the border in European cross-border areas, accounting for almost 40 % of the total population of the European Union (EU).

The earliest agreements binding twin cities were concluded before the signature of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty in 1951. Town-twinning was first promoted as a beneficial means to heal the wounds of the recent past and soften the scars of history. The need to avoid the errors of the interwar years, combined with the strategic necessities of the Cold War, resulted in cross-border strategies aimed at achieving higher principals, such as ensuring the unity of western Europe and promoting world peace. Thus, adopting an approach of “building Europe from below” provided a promising way to overcome resentment and division. The origins of certain town-twinnings were deeply rooted in the past. Sometimes they were also a continuation of private contacts or of peer group meetings occurring in an...

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