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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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European Community (EC)/European Union (EU) and Cross-Border Cooperation


The European Community (EC) has for a long period not been involved with cross-border cooperation. From the 1950s until the 1980s, cross-border cooperation developed rather independently and in parallel to the European integration process.

This is mainly due to the fact, that the EC considered towns and regions more as economic units for the distribution of regional funds than as autonomous political actors. When the European regional policy was introduced in 1975, the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) was therefore solely negotiated between the European Commission and the EC member states, without associating local and regional actors. This perception only changed with the introduction of the Interreg programs in 1990 and the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, when border regions became directly associated to the European Regional Policy and, via the creation of the Committee of regions in 1994, to the decision-making process of the European Union (EU). The EU’s economic approach to border regions was finally enlarged to a more geopolitical view of cross-border cooperation as a tool for democratic stabilization after its Eastern enlargement in 2004, when the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was created.

However, a first initiative from the European Commission to support cross-border regions dates back to the mid-1980s in an area covering three countries (Belgium, France and Luxembourg) that were severely hit by the crisis of the steel and coal Industry. The project of the European Development Pole aimed at an industrial reconversion on a cross-border scale and...

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