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Cross-Border Cooperation Structures in Europe

Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future


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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Cross-border studies and their political, economic, social, and cultural relevance have a significant presence in the scientific literature, although not with the same intensity among the different social sciences, nor among countries. In fact, the Mexico-US border has had, for a long time, an iconic status within border studies; EU borders were later integrated in cross-border research and, more recently, borders in other continents. At the same time, an increasing number of collective studies characterised by the interdisciplinarity of their approach have emerged in the last decades. Along this path, the interrelation of several social sciences involved in border studies has enabled the achievement of significant conceptual and methodological contributions. Thus, anthropologists managed to include border citizens as active participants in their studies1, breaking away from the classical state and institution centred approaches. Geographers introduced the concept of border landscapes in order to define the space located in the milieu of each state’s limes, shaped by the constant interaction between the people who live there and by the geographical features of the border area2. Along these lines, historians coined the notion of borderland in order to highlight the relevance of these territories and their people in building nation-states and their interrelationships, from the state towards its borders and vice versa3, in a dual relationship in which the political decisions taken by national actors predetermine border life and context, but, at the same time, state decision-making is also determined by the border itself and the actors involved in it....

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