The Added Value of European Territorial Cooperation. Drawing from Case Studies
The historical background of European state borders is described, paying attention to the facts that have influenced their characterisation and diversity, as well as the role of Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) to overcome historical barriers. Here, the main reasons for CBC are identified, along with a review of the main milestones since the creation of the first Euroregion in 1958, the constitution of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) in 1971, the Madrid Outline Convention in 1980, the Interreg Initiative in 1990 and the creation of the EGTCs in 2006. Special attention is paid to the rapid development of CBC structures at the external borders of the European Union (EU) after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the programmes and instruments addressing their specific needs. Then, the main principles of cooperation (partnership, subsidiarity, lead partner) are reviewed, as well as the typologies developed by AEBR, particularly in the nineties during the “explosion” of CBC across the whole continent and after Interreg III, probably the best period of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC). The process to establish decentralised cross-border strategies and programmes is explained, paying attention to their necessary evaluation. Finally, the added value of CBC is defined, highlighting its evidence through concrete examples regarding cross-border strategies, growth and economic development, business relationship, SMEs, entrepreneurial skills (particularly for the youth), research and innovation, the labour market, universities, vocational training, environment, transport, tourism, culture and media, and “new governance” (e-government).