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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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Council of Europe and Cross-Border Cooperation


The Council of Europe was the first European Organisation which considered cross-border cooperation as a matter of concern to be dealt with at European level. Three key elements characterize its approach. First, it adopted from the start a bottom-up perspective by associating local and regional authorities themselves to European cooperation in this field. Second, it sought to create the legal conditions necessary to enable its member states to let their local authorities manage more or less autonomously their cross-border cooperation. And, third, it was a pioneer in using cross-border cooperation as a tool for geopolitical stabilization of post-Cold War European borders.

The Council of Europe’s interest in border regions and their “small foreign policy” resulted from the fact that, in the 1950s, some members of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe also had an important local mandate, for example the French Mayor of Bordeaux, Jacques Chaban-Delmas. They pledged to give an opportunity to local authorities to be able to take part in the activities of the Council of Europe. The political debate was also closely linked to the issue of local self-government pushed forward mainly by regionalists such as the Swiss philosopher Denis de Rougemont who were fighting for a “Europe of regions”. In 1957, the Council of Europe thus created the European Conference of Local Authorities (CLA) in which local authorities met regularly under the Council of Europe’s roof. It was enlarged to the participation of regional authorities in 1975 and became the...

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