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Cross-Border Cooperation Structures in Europe

Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future


Edited By Luis Dominguez Castro and Iva Miranda Pires

Since its inception, one of the distinguishing features of the project of European integration has been the overcoming of internal borders. This aim has had one of the most remarkable outcomes in the history of cross-border cooperation, resulting in the creation of territorial structures known as Euroregions, with or without legal personality, and with substantial financial support from EU institutions. This distinctive element is characteristic of the models and achievements of cross-border cooperation in Europe and North America.
At a time of reflection about the European integration model and its future, it is interesting to investigate the different aspects involved in cross-border cooperation, from a historical perspective projected onto the future. This volume looks at cross-border cooperation from a multiplicity of perspectives, examining its motivations, its actors, its inclusion in the context of international relations, its organizational models, its outcomes and its impact on labour markets, economic development, neighbourhood policies and the creation of new identities. These issues are analysed within a number of different European geographical locations, assessing how far we have come and exploring the road that still lies ahead.
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The Place of Cross-Border Cooperation in International Relations

1.  Cross-Border Cooperation – a European Research Field Reserved for Local History and European Integration Studies



Institute of Political Studies, University of Strasbourg

Cross-border cooperation has only recently become a field of research in International Relations1. It is only since the late 1990s that historians have studied relations between border regions, mainly in the context of comparative “area studies”2. Cross-border cooperation has somehow been situated at the intersection between the history of European integration and the more general research field of border studies.

For a long time, cross-border cooperation between local and regional actors was not recognised as a tool for micro-diplomacy serving national, European or international interests, as most disciplines in the human sciences were attached to the principle that foreign policy is reserved for the nation state. It was the geographers who started to examine the geopolitical functions of borders in an international context in the 1970s3.

Research on cross-border cooperation as a phenomenon in International Relations has suffered many impediments. First, most of the studies led by Europeans focused either on specific European border regions, i.e. on the local and regional history, geography and regional governance of a determined space within Europe, or they were designed to examine the link between cross-border regions and the European integration process ← 67 | 68 → post 19454. Secondly, only very few non-European researchers have undertaken work on cross-border cooperation and consequently, only few comparative studies between European and non-European border regions in America, Africa or Asia were introduced in the late 1990s5. It is only...

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