Crossborder and transnational cooperation, the new Europe is inventing itself in its margins
REPORT BY JEAN-LOUIS ARNAUD
FOREWORD BY JACQUES DELORS
The disappearance of physical borders and the freedom to move and exchange is the most immediate expression of the European dream for the citizens of our countries. But what shall actually happen to the borders that are supposed to have been abolished between the current Member States and, in the immediate future, for the candidate countries in the process of accession? It is in response to this question that Notre Europe and Unioncamere organised, on 13th November 2001, a seminar based on six examples of cross-border and transnational cooperation.
A new way of building and living Europe is being invented at these borders. The themes of co-operatio n do not exactly coincide with the political priorities of the European Union, but relate in large part to culture and communication, education, employment, health, and at times, immigration. In short, they reflect the daily concerns of the populations. To the same degree, the actors are not those of the Brussels Europe, above all they are the municipalities, non profit organisations, and small and medium sized firms. Contrary to those who would like to place an institutional model over these practices : this is not the Europe of the Regions. It is something more simple and more innovative : the manifestation of a community of interests that transcends national borders, and the desire to break through these barriers to make life more easy.
But, there are numerous difficulties for those who attempt this simple programme ! There are no legal frameworks or pertinent financial networks, national and community programmes have not adapted to this transborder reality: 15 years after the adoption of the Single European Act, it appears as if the central administrations take some cruel pleasure in re-closing national borders through procedures.
When it relates to co-operation between regions of current and future members (three of the six cases studied here), these difficulties become excessive even more so when one considers that these problems are often of a totally new character: the lot of ethnic minorities, police security, the struggle against illegal immigration. Decisions taken recently to facilitate the relations between the INTERREG programmes - for the current Member States - and PHARE - for the future Member States - appear rather timid. Nevertheless, the process of integration, the key to the success of the reunification of Europe, is patently clear in these studies. Learning new methods of public management, exchanging ideas and sharing resources in order to mount common projects is common. When one remembers that these border regions, the ones that shall be most effected by enlargement, constitute 68% of the territory and 58% of the population of the future Member States, one can clearly judge the size of the challenge.
The aim of this seminar was not to define what might be the shape of future European programmes in this area, but rather to look differently these cross border region, to analyse them as sites of opportunity and creativity, and not merely as marginal areas that are the source of problems. Notre Europe is honoured to have been able to contribute to this debate with the help of Unioncamere, and I am grateful to Marjorie Jouen who was at once the inspiration and the driving force behind the project with Alessandra Pasetti.