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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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Cross-Border Working Communities



Cross-border working communities are, in principle, groupings of regional authorities seeking to establish multilateral cross-border cooperation. The majority of them cover a broad area united by a particular geographical feature (a mountain range, for example), and generally contain a large number of regional authorities. They are often rather informal, functioning with a non-binding legal basis and their members do not transfer any decision-making powers to a joint governance body. Thus, they have distinguished from the so-called Euroregions, which normally group together local or regional authorities from a small number of adjacent border regions with the objective to create a true cross-border area. That results in a more binding cooperation framework, which allows policies to be initiated and joint projects to be carried out.

Historically, however, the two concepts of working communities and Euroregions have been intrinsically linked. The first Euroregion to be created in Europe—the Gronau Euregio on the Dutch-German border—was indeed initially a cross-border working community. It began in 1954 when two local associations, one German and one Dutch, were founded in order to bring together five border regions which, between them, comprised more than 100 municipalities on either side of the border. This cross-border working community was transformed into a Euroregion in 1958, the Euregio, which was progressively institutionalised, with a common office built in 1985.

The same kind of development took place on the borders between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and in the Upper Rhine Region, at the...

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