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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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How to define the notion of the environment in relation with transnational cooperation? Its scientific definition, which refers to “biophysical realities” considered as external to humans and societies but interacting with them, is very broad. Nevertheless, a generally accepted definition has progressively been developed in a pragmatic way. In fact, political and civic action, along with programmes and dedicated organisations, have gradually defined, amongst others, what falls within the domain of the environment. A first way of considering the environment in cross-border cooperation would be to identify the objects that are classified under its name. A convergence appears around some major categories: the natural environment and resources, risks, landscapes, climate change, which are defined through the objectives of protection, prevention, management and/or sustainability. European cooperation policies integrate them almost systematically. Environmental issues are included in all cross-border programmes and are considered a priority within interregional cooperation.

But beyond the contents attributed to it, the environment can primarily be considered as a political tool for the construction of cross-border spaces. In fact, it plays an active role in three main ways: the ideal dimension of values, the political dimension of the scope of action, and the geographical dimension of spatial continuity.

First of all, the ideological values attributed to the environment give it a strong symbolic significance. “Environment knows no borders” is a frequently brandished slogan, suggesting that biophysical realities must prevail over artificial political boundaries. The “Peace Parks” bears witness to this, these cross-border...

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