The authors argue that cross-border territories require not only an integrated approach to development, but also a form of cross-border governance that is democratic and pursues a multi-stage strategy in order to ensure accountability towards citizens and socio-economic actors and make certain that they are acknowledged and receive support at a regional and national level. At present, relevant statistical indices are lacking for most cross-border territories. Such indices are essential, however, for establishing a shared body of regional knowledge as a basis for developing joint policies and activities. Shared border areas presuppose that development takes place on both sides in order to overcome the negative effects of borders, to fully exploit the potential arising from the development of projects, and to address the needs of the inhabitants.
This article examines the part played by spatial information in the planning of cross-border areas. It examines the concept of “cross-border territory”, shows the diverse criteria applied in European regional planning as exemplified in the border region of France and Luxemburg, and considers which tools are available—from the standpoint of multi-level governance—for this purpose. Ultimately, it is a question of addressing the needs, challenges and potential offered by spatial information in a cross-border context.
1 Preliminary Remarks
The Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière (MOT) brings together actors involved in cross-border cooperation. They primarily consist of local and regional authorities along Europe’s diverse borders, as well as in states such as Luxembourg and Andorra. The Mission promotes the creation of cross-border local authorities responsible for urban, rural or natural cross-border territories and has, from the start, received support from the French national public authorities. The MOT supports its members’ projects, and helps in the governance of their cross-border territories, by developing networking activities (websites, newsletters, organizing seminars and conferences), conducting studies, and developing European projects, such as the EGTC (“Expertising Governance for Trans-frontier Conurbations”, within framework of the Urbact program. See MOT/Lamour 2008). As it involves actors of various territorial levels—local, regional, national, European—the MOT can be considered a multi-level governance tool (European Commission 2001: 34) for cross-border territories.
The MOT has experience, above all, in monitoring cross-border territories, which involves supporting cross-border observation locally, acting as a guide to cross-border conurbations (MOT 2003), preparing an atlas of cross-border cooperation along France’s borders (MOT 2007), assisting the cross-border strand of the French national Observatoire des territoires (Territorial Observatory) implemented by DATAR 1, offering advice on land and property issues in cross-border areas (MOT 2006), etc.
In this communication, the authors are speaking from the perspective of the spatial planners that they are: as participatory observers with operational experience based on cross-border cooperation—mainly along the French borders (representing ten countries). MOT’s political board is composed of politicians committed to the building of this type of cross border governance. Therefore, the authors assume that such communication is mainly normative—the result of a political vision. For them, writing such a paper in English means crossing not only borders between states, or between science and policy making, but also borders between the English and the French languages. For instance, the word “region” has different connotations in English and in French, where it is more specific and generally refers to the supra-local scale, as well in the domain of public policy and the academic world.2 This misunderstanding also exists in the area of cross border cooperation with regard to the notion of a Euro-region, which is viewed differently in Central Europe, where it generally implies cooperation between local authorities (Perkmann 1999: 658), and in Southwest Europe, where Euro-regions such as Pyrénées Méditerranée are groups of NUTS 2.3 As a consequence, their references tend to comprise more French than English-speaking literature. The present paper addresses both academics and European policymakers involved in cross-border cooperation. It aims to contribute towards a better European understanding of the reality and needs of cross-border territories.
Travelling to work areas, metropolitan areas and rural regions does not always fit in with the established borders of the political and administrative authorities, but they are nevertheless places where people live on a day to day basis. European integration has already begun to encourage the emergence of such territories in a cross-border context. The MOT refers to them as “cross-border territories”. If one reflects on the debate on the future of the Union, the challenge today lies in knowing what sort of cross-border territories European citizens will want to build for tomorrow. Will these only include spaces in which a single market develops? Or will they be territories within defined perimeters, backed politically and managed technically through cross-border planning and governance? MOT clearly assumes that the second option will apply (MOT 2008b: 34).
Whereas the territorial (and in particular urban) dimension of the cohesion policy is establishing its position (European Commission 2008a), and although territorial cooperation is now one of the objectives of the cohesion policy, neither the aims of this cooperation in terms of territorial development, nor the territorial concepts it uses (Euro-regions, Euro-districts etc.) have been adequately defined at European level. As a consequence, there is a lack of awareness of the territorial dimension of cross-border cooperation. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) regulation for 2007/2013 period, for instance, makes no explicit reference to the urban dimension in Article 6.1 dealing with cross-border cooperation. This certainly contributes to the fact that cooperation between cities does not constitute a major element in the programmes concerned, even if the urban dimension is quite explicit in the diagnoses and strategies of some of them (European Commission 2008b: 44). On the contrary, the draft regulations for the period 2014/2020, published by the European Commission in October 20114, now explicitly offer the cities the chance to adopt a territorial approach within the scope of European cooperation programmes, too: “local development”, “integrated territorial investments” may, for instance, be supported by these programmes, and delegated to “European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation” (EGTC) or equivalent bodies.
The perspectives initiated by the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP; European Commission, 1999) have been developed in quite different processes (Green paper on territorial cohesion (European Commission 2008a), Territorial Agenda 2007 (Informal Ministerial Meeting on Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion 2007) and 2020 (Informal Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development 2011). Despite this, they are converging (Faludi/Peyrony 2011: 6). This communication intends to build on the various concepts within this territorial approach (territorial capital, integrated place based approach and horizontal coordination, multi-level governance and vertical coordination, functional approach and cooperation across administrative borders) but it does not intend to discuss them. Instead, it focuses on the consequences of such assumptions for planning tools.
If we assume that cross-border territories, like all territories, deserve an integrated approach of this nature, it is evident that their development requires:
a definition of cross-border territories, as they are assumed to be by politicians, citizens, socio-economic actors within a cross-border democratic governance framework, and as they are recognized by both national and European actors—such as agencies managing cross border programmes—through a multi-level governance approach,
that their development be monitored on either side of the border in order to overcome negative effects and to develop potentials through the development of projects which accommodate the needs of the inhabitants.
At present, there exist no relevant statistical indicators for most of the cross-border territories. Such indicators are nevertheless essential for performing appropriate analyses of these territories, their handicaps and assets, as well as for establishing evidence and making shared diagnoses on which to base joint policies and actions. Many questions arise: what information systems ought to be built for cross-border territories? How is it possible to collect data matching the new perimeters, comparable on both sides of the border? Cross-border monitoring approaches have been developed on varying local and regional scales. How can the limits of such strategies be overcome? How can they be coordinated with each other? What statistical methods ought to be implemented to improve cross-border statistical monitoring at local, regional, national and European levels?
In the light of their experience, and particularly within the framework of the MOT, the authors will successively examine:
the “cross-border territory” concept, as perceived by the MOT, after more than 10 years of elaboration;
the way in which European spatial planning addresses various scales of cross-border territories, as exemplified in the border area shared by France and Luxembourg;
how planning for cross-border territories (within a multi-level framework) should look. It proposes developing a typology of the tools used in the governance of territories (based on the European Spatial Development Perspective) and applying it to the case of cross-border territories;
how spatial information can support planning for cross-border territories, according to MOT’s experience.
The whole paper is, therefore, built on the dialectic between a normative approach (cross-border spaces have to be considered as territories, Sect. 3, require planning tools, Sect. 6, and in particular spatial information, Sect. 6), and some empirical input showing that cross-border territories exist (Sect. 4) and that it is possible to develop tools which meet these normative requirements (Sect. 6).
3 The “Cross-Border Territory” Concept, as Developed by the MOT
The title of this article combines two concepts. The first, that of “spatial planning”, has a long history at the European level and is not free from ambiguities. It will be used in the sense of French aménagement du territoire, and not in the narrower sense of land-use planning. The second, “cross-border territory”, may seem paradoxical, with the concept of territory being attached to that of state. First, let us say briefly what is meant here by territory within the context of public policies that involve spatial planning. Territory, in the sense which the word territoire has in French, is related to the concept of aménagement du territoire—its contemporary European equivalent being territorial cohesion (Faludi 2009: 3). “Territory” is sometimes opposed to “space” (DATAR 2002: 12): space is the physical framework in which a number of natural, economic, social phenomena occur, without this framework being the object of a specific policy as such. The term of territory, in contrast, refers to inhabited space: the espaces vécus (lived spaces) defined by the French geographer Fremont (1976). Territoires vécus presented by DATAR 5 are the object of conscious ownership by their inhabitants, and of explicit policies aiming to organise these territories. An equivalent in English language might be “communities”. Territory is most generally understood as something belonging to the nation state, of which it forms the geographical framework: an entity that the State defends against the outside, and which it organises for its own citizens’ well-being (Beckouche 2001: 33). The institution of boundaries went hand in hand with the establishment of a single sovereign authority, equipped with exclusive power over a homogeneous territory (Perkmann 2007: 257). National territories are, of course, subdivided into various levels of “local” authorities, assignees of certain functions within a national framework. In France, the concept of “territories” understood as infra national entities, as the object of specific policies, only appeared in the 1980s. The French framework of territorial administration—set up largely between 1789 and 1815—was, at the time, shaken by increasing mobility and sub-urbanisation, leading to divergences between administrative boundaries and real life. In 1982, a major decentralisation reform, instituted by newly elected socialist government, led to the creation of political regions (NUTS 2), and to the devolution to municipalities, departments (NUTS 3) and regions of competences that had previously belonged to State. But this reform was not accompanied by mergers of preexisting local authorities, as was the case for other countries during the same period. Instead, DATAR developed the policies of pays and agglomérations. “Relevant” or “functional” territories of this nature are supposed to be spaces adapted to a new governance (if one does not wish to question the limits of existing institutions), or new governments (if one wishes to reform these institutions, for example, by defining new jurisdictions such as inter-municipal structures, as it is now the case in France with the on-going reform of territorial authorities). Within this paradigm, functional territories, defined by statistical methods, are opposed dialectically to institutional territories and legitimated by democratic institutions, but weakened by the obsolescence of their limits. This is a never-ending dialectic because of the ever greater mobility: the way in which institutional territories and functional territories coincide remains problematic. Moreover, functional territories differ according to the functions under consideration (see Hooghe/Marks 2003; Gualini 2003; Bleton-Ruget/Commerçon/Gonod 2006).
Cross-border territories, in the way MOT’s members experience them, illustrate this question perfectly. Some of them at least, characterised as they are by intensive cross-border flows, are genuinely functional territories. Such patterns are likely to become ever-more frequent owing to the European integration process and its effects on mobility. Political and socio-economic actors are increasingly perceiving the institutionalisation of cross-border territories, in the form of cross-border governance, as a need; it is, however, limited intrinsically by the persistence of national borders, because states remain the most legitimate frameworks for public action.
The developers of cross-border territories are fighting for these to be acknowledged as specific entities, both by those who live there and by external partners. Where do these territories start and finish? Who decides that spaces separated by a national border shall nevertheless belong to the same cross-border territory? According to the MOT, a cross-border territory is an inhabited space crossed by flows and relations (e.g. home-work commuting, purchasing, education and leisure behaviour, cultural practices, business, cooperation between public-sector actors) (MOT 2008b: 34).
However, the existence of cross-border functional areas is not, on its own, sufficient to determine the existence of a cross-border territory, since this also depends on political commitment and the acceptance of those living and working there. Cross-border territories are “spaces of engagement” (Perkmann 2007: 256). Thus considered, a territory can be the subject of a political and institutional project that does not necessarily coincide with the different functional realities prevailing there. The existence of such a cross-border territory, benefiting from an identifiable project if not an identity, also depends on the extent and way it is owned by its inhabitants and socio-economic actors, and the way in which communication is facilitated by public authorities.
In the absence of a political project, an area remains a cross-border space: it is not a cross-border territory. Even if representation of such areas in cross-border regions is problematic (Gualini 2003: 48), the authors do not share the assumption that market forces, or purely bottom-up projects (possibly financed by EU funds and without any public strategy or coordination) provide sustainable solutions for their inhabitants. The territorial review of Öresund by the OECD (OECD 2003), which tries to justify “soft governance” against more bureaucratic arrangements, whilst raising the question of democratic deficit, is a good illustration of this dilemma. The politicians that have set up the governance of the Eurometropolis Lille Kortrijk Tournai (Pierre Mauroy) and West-Vlaanderen/Flandre-Dunkerque-Côte d’Opale (Michel Delebarre), and who happen to be the former and current presidents of the MOT, are clearly of a different opinion.
Therefore, the epistemological interest of this paper consists in considering functional cross-border “spaces” as emerging—“territories” (as defined above), and to infer consequences for the planning tools required by such “cross-border territories”.
For the sake of internal and external recognition, as well as for its management, a cross-border territory ought to be monitored jointly on both sides of the border. Monitoring, at the service of the political project, would not only measure the effects of the border (gradients, resulting flows), but also consider the territory as a whole, summarizing the potential on either side of the border.
There are several types of cross-border territories: rural regions, river basins, mountain ranges, conurbations, metropolises, city networks; different scales may be relevant for local services, for commuting to work, for higherlevel services, or for economic development. Last but not least, the specific nature of cross-border territories should also be noted. In contrast to territories located within a state, which may be subject to political and administrative boundary changes, the state boundary remains in existence in this case. Its effect can perhaps be attenuated, but not eliminated (Foucher 2007: 24). And its governance, not its government, is at stake (Perkmann 2007: 259). A cross-border territory is a space in which governance, even when it is legally constituted, does not aim to administer a territory, but rather to implement action programmes aimed at meeting the needs of its inhabitants.
4 How “European Spatial Planning” Addresses Various Scales of Cross-Border Territories
Member States of the Council of Europe, within the framework of the “Conference of the Ministers in Charge for Spatial Planning” (CEMAT), and later those of European Union, under the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) process, and subsequently the Territorial Agenda process, laid the foundations of a European perception of territory. This involves common principles for national frameworks, but also for territories straddling borders (see European Commission 1999: 42; Informal Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development 2011: 8). Cross-border territories progressively emerge as communities of projects, and even communities of destiny (Gualini 2003: 50), thanks to the integration process made possible and fostered by EU activities (Richardson 2006: 203). The European Commission has supported this cooperation, in particular through the Interreg Community initiative, which has meanwhile been replaced by the Territorial Cooperation objective, organized in three strands: cross-border, transnational, interregional. For a better grasp of the various spatial scales of European spatial planning, it is worth considering the categories forged at Community level: cross-border, transnational, interregional cooperation. Let us leave interregional cooperation aside for the moment, since it is concerned with networking and not with contiguous territories.
Cross-border cooperation addresses the scale of “cross-border regions” (as the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, article 174, now states). It is statistically defined as NUTS three adjacent to a border, and is supposed to serve as a proximity scale. This strand is generally devolved to a bottom up-approach, which explains the generally limited interest on the part of national administrations in charge of spatial planning, and by Commission services (apart from desk officers in charge of monitoring cooperation programmes) despite the fact that funding devoted to cross-border cooperation represents more than 75 % of the funds devoted to cooperation for the period 2007/2013.
A second strand is that of transnational cooperation, covering macro regions, intended to address strategic issues and also requiring top down-approaches that involve national administrations. Despite its indisputable prospective interest, and some successful projects, this strand has not yet fully produced the proof of its added value (European Commission 2010).
The emblematic example of such macro-regions is the Baltic Sea area. Drawing lessons from the overly low profile of an on-going cooperation process, EU Member States asked the European Commission in 2007 to design a holistic EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region. This strategy (European Commission 2009) was approved by the Council in October 2009. Stakeholders from European, national, regional and local institutions, pan-Baltic organisations as well as non-governmental bodies have been invited to join an interactive dialogue on the future of the region. While the European Council takes the political responsibility for the strategy, the European Commission plays an active role in coordinating the process and monitoring its progress. The strategy is the basis for concrete action in four policy areas: making the region an environmentally sustainable, prosperous, accessible and attractive, safe and secure place. Concrete actions remain the full responsibility of “territorial actors”, from national and regional governments to Non-Governmental Organizations. The Baltic Sea Strategy process can boast several innovations:
an integrated sustainable development strategy responding to the needs of a functional macro-region, comprising different territories from the EU as well as neighbouring countries,
horizontal coordination of sectoral policies at different levels (local, regional, national and European) at the core of a strategic territorial development process, including both land-based and maritime issues,
vertical coordination involving stakeholders and territorial actors from different levels,
better coordination of national legal frameworks and strategies and improved alignment of different funding mechanisms.
and all this was achieved under the motto: no new legislation; no new funding; no new institutions. this statement, made in the context of a macro-region, is extremely valuable for cross border cooperation. to put it briefly: spatial planning at an EU level is definitely not a question of competence (Faludi 2009: 4) but one of coordination.
the distinction between cross border and macro regional levels is useful. even so, the different scale of these strategic territories often overlap, as they are too big for cross-border operational programmes (in terms of scale and need to involve “higher” levels) and too small for transnational operational programmes, in which very large scale approach is often prioritized, whilst projects on the scale of subspaces would be more pertinent. in regional planning spatial proximity counts, even if it is not the only question.
the call for projects for “metropolitan cooperation” launched by datar in 2003 provides a good illustration of the above. Métropoles d’équilibre (regional metropolises are supposed to counterbalance Paris), a long-standing issue in French spatial planning, were re-examined from an European point of view: benchmarking between european cities led to the statement that with the exception of Paris, French cities carry limited weight, as compared with other European cities. a call for projects allowed a selection of fifteen sites—eight being of cross-border dimension—with varying configurations and not limited to a strict cross-border proximity scale. Western Flanders-Dunkerque-Côte d’opale (Belgium/France), Euro-metropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai (Belgium/France), Euro-district Saarbrücken-Eastern Moselle (Germany/France); Euro-district Strasbourg-Ortenau (Germany/France), Franco-valdo-genevois metropolis (Switzerland/France); Côte d’azur metropolis (France/Italy) are all cross-border urban regions.
the “Sillon Lorrain” (Belgium/France/Luxemburg), and the metropolitan network rhine rhone (Switzerland/Germany/France), which includes Le creusot, Châlon sur saône, dijon, Besançon, Montbéliard, Belfort, Mulhouse and Basel), represent a broader scale: recalling the “development corridors” evoked by the european spatial development Perspective (ESDP), despite the fact that they include cross border urban areas. they serve as an intermediary between transnational and cross-border scales.
in terms of spatial planning that addresses cross-border territories, at least three scales are relevant. the first is that of cross-border agglomerations, or of cross-border metropolitan functional areas, that involve local authorities in the urban management of their common local territory.
a second is that of cross-border regions that include several border regions, such as the “Grande Région”, which are involved in issues such as transport, branding, economic development, culture, and the management of cross-border operational programmes. this scale is also relevant for the coordination of national regulations and cross-border strategies. National governments’ awareness about metropolises and their potential is clearly rising. France, as mentioned above, supports “metropolitan cooperation”. Germany has acknowledged Metropolregionen in its spatial strategy (BMVBS 2006) and gives them federal support. What needs to be provided is coordinated support by the various states wherever such metropolises assume a cross border dimension. The project “Metroborder”6, developed by Switzerland, Germany, France and Luxemburg and addressing Grande Région and Upper Rhine, shows the way forward: It aims to identify criteria, potentials and governance practices for polycentric cross-border metropolitan regions in Europe, and to propose options for development strategies that strive to implement a multilevel approach in these two regions.
A third scale is that of the macro-regions, involving regions and states; in the case of the “Grande Région”, the transnational space of reference is North West Europe or the “Europe of capitals”, and sometimes referred to as the Pentagon (London-Paris-Milan-Munich-Hamburg) (see European Commission 1999), to which the “Grande Région” has to refer when it comes to issues such as connection to Trans-European transport networks.
5 What Should Planning be for Cross-Border Territories?
How is it possible to describe normatively the contents of “cross-border spatial planning”? The following is an attempt to answer this question within the conceptual framework developed by Commission and the member states (European Commission 1999: 36; Peyrony 2002:60). According to the European Spatial Development Perspective, spatial planning requires both horizontal coordination7 (for policies developed on the various territorial scales) and vertical coordination (between the various territorial levels). The White Paper on Governance (European Commission 2001) develops the “multi-level governance” concept. Cross-border governance institutions articulate horizontal and vertical networks (Perkmann 1999: 663; Perkmann 2007: 259).
This answer is presented schematically in Table 1. The underlying principle appears in the European Spatial Development Perspective, and is henceforth developed for the specific case of cross-border cooperation.
Governance of territorial cooperation
On a vertical axis, one can find the various territorial scales: local, regional authorities, states, and the European level (the European union and the council of europe). Functionally, “local” refers to the scale of daily life: housing, commuting, working, accessing basic services, “regional” refers to the smallest spatial scale that can contain activities of a whole lifetime: areas where one is born, grows up, studies, works and retires. it includes the availability of services such as airports, stations serving high-speed trains, universities, hospitals, key cultural establishments, and natural and recreational areas. in an institutional approach, the existence and the role of such levels differ depending on the states in question. in all countries, the municipalities are in charge of local territories. the regional scale can range from a simple administrative entity (deconcentration) to a federated state. But in an initial approach, this simplification will suffice to elucidate the underlying rationale.
on a horizontal axis, one finds the various categories of tools mobilised by public policy-makers addressing territorial development: political bodies of government and governance specific to each scale: the technical tools developed by these political bodies, tools for spatial planning such as master-plans, as well as regulation and planning tools for sectoral policies, and last but not least: funding tools for public sectoral or territorial (and often referred to as “regional”) policies.
in the authors’ perspective, i.e. that of planning for “cross-border territories”, each column is duplicated. on the left, those tools are listed which are internal to the states concerned. at local level, the political authorities are not only municipalities, but also diverse inter-municipal structures. their technical tools are, of course, the administrations of these political authorities, as well as various kinds of public development agencies. spatial planning tools are spatial plans on the scale of agglomerations and functional urban areas. sectoral planning tools are, for example, urbantravel or local-housing plans. Funding tools themselves are mainly the local budgets. the other levels will not be examined in detail here (for further details see Peyrony 2002). the cross-border co-operation tools are shown on the right; these tools will be described more precisely later.
When it comes to cross-border cooperation, governance has to serve as substitute for government, because the latter remains within a national framework. on a local scale, one finds cross-border inter-municipal structures such as those listed by Mot (MOT 2005). there are a great diversity of these along the borders between the various European countries; they go under the name of Euro-districts (the Swiss/German/French borders), the Euro-metropolises (Belgium/France: Lille Kortrijk Tournai), the Euro-cities (Spain/Portugal: Chaves-Verin), and the city twins (north-eastern Europe).
In much the same way, regional scale co-operation schemes have evolved along many borders, as well as in broader transnational areas such as the maritime basins of the Baltic and the Mediterranean, and within cooperation structures such as the geographical commissions set up by the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR). Last but not least, the states themselves are involved in cooperation structures, such as the intergovernmental conferences on transnational spaces (e.g. the Alpine Convention and the Nordic Council). Due to disparities in competences across the various borders, the political governance of local cross-border spaces requires the involvement of higher territorial levels, including states (Groupe de Travail Parlementaire Franco-Belge 2006), even if, in MOT’s perspective (MOT/Institut IGEAT de l’Université libre de Bruxelles 2006: 150), the local authorities are expected to exert political control over the nearby cross-border cooperation areas, as is the case with “internal” territories inside the states.
The Madrid Convention launched by the Council of Europe and, more recently, the regulation creating the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) promulgated by the European Union (European Council/European Parliament 2006), offer these structures potential legal frameworks. The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation supplements rather than replaces the existing instruments: it forms part of a “legal toolbox” containing all the legal instruments available for use under national law. It is open to various territorial competence levels (in certain states this was not possible with the pre-existing tools), and thus permits unprecedented multi-level governance involving the national, regional or local authorities in common policy areas, such as health. Thus considered, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation might become the European tool of reference supporting the governance of cross-border territories (MOT 2008a).
5.2 Technical Tools for Government/Governance
Cross-border governance structures need technical tools if they are to fulfil a variety of missions such as making observations, undertaking general and prospective studies, involving themselves in spatial planning, coordination and communication with regard to the cross-border territory and to projects due for implementation. This, too, applies to various scales: to the urban or rural scale of proximity (e.g. the cross-border urban agency of the Longwy European Development Pole), the cross-border regions (e.g. Secretariat of the Öresund Committee) and transnational spaces. The Joint Technical Secretariats of the cross-border and transnational programmes may be seen as precursors of such tools; the same holds true for the Joint Technical Secretariats of the various network programmes, such as ESPON
for the whole territory of Europe. Very often, these structures are financed at various territorial levels, thus illustrating the relevance of multi-level governance for cross-border cooperation.
5.3 Spatial Planning
Regulatory spatial planning (the regulation of land use) is governed by legal and regulatory systems that are generally national in character. The coordination of planning documents across borders is essential, however, especially as cross-border territory is “integrated”, as is the case, for instance, for cross-border agglomerations, as well as for other scales, including the national level.8 The European Spatial Development Perspective and the Territorial Agenda 2007 and 2020 have launched processes aiming at coordinating spatial policies right across Europe. These are intergovernmental in nature, since spatial planning is not the European Union’s sphere of competence. This is not to say that EU should not play a role here—for the Baltic Sea strategy can be seen as an example of EU being involved in the field of spatial planning, yet without any formal competence.
5.4 Sectoral Planning
Similarly, the legal framework of sectoral policies (such as housing and transport policies, health, education, environment, economic development) has to be coordinated across borders. Contrary to a naïve assumption, the fact that national legal frameworks are increasingly derived from EU
law is not a sufficient condition to assure inter-operability across borders. EU law is not transposed uniformly, and the development of efficient public services across borders requires the proactive coordination of regulations, as a preliminary condition for coordinated strategies, policies, and investments. The elaboration of a strategy for the Baltic Sea Region has demonstrated this in the transnational context, but it also applies in the cross border context.
5.5 Sectoral or Territorial Funding Tools
Funding cross-border projects for infrastructure or public services is probably one of the most difficult goals to realise. Of course, the EU makes contributions to fund major projects such as the Trans-European Transport Networks and co-operation schemes through the Interreg, now the Territorial Cooperation Objective. The sums available are limited, however, and of modest significance to most of the actors involved (Perkmann 1999: 663). Furthermore, joint funding for cross-border infrastructures and public services by the local and regional authorities concerned often seems to clash with national rules that hinder project funding on the other side of the border. Moreover, tools differ from country to country and require co-ordination, which makes cooperation particularly complex.
Thus, cross-border territories are testing beds, as well as laboratories, where convergence and further integration are put to the test. According to Amilhat-Szary and Fourny (2006: 9), Europe, which began inventing and disseminating the system of state borders at the time of the treaties of Westphalia on, is also the continent that has gone the furthest in removing internal borders functions (Richardson 2006: 203). As Gualini (2003: 43) pointed out: cross border governance has become a key expression of both regionalism and the dynamics of change in territorial relations within Europe. Promoting the emergence of cross-border regions has become an important objective of EU cohesion policy.
6 Spatial Information to Support Planning in Cross-Border Territories: Needs, Challenges and Responses
For all territories, be they cross-border or not, spatial planning requires spatial information, as well as statisticians and researchers who process and elaborate upon this information. This may involve a wide range of activities: including defining and describing territories and how they work (from socio-economic and political points of view) on various scales and help in drafting and assessing public policies that impact on territories and prospective studies. In the case of cross-border territories, however, the difficulty is multiplied because many different national systems are involved. This has been tested on several borders, often with the aid of Interreg, and on a European scale in the ESPON programme.
An initially difficulty arises when trying to define cross-border territories. “Internal” territories, when they are institutionalized, are much easier to define than cross-border territories which transgress institutional logic. Indeed, within a mono-national framework, statistics provide tools for delimiting functional territories. National statistical systems generally make it possible to construct travel routes and networks that serve areas where people work (based on data about daily commuting), functional urban areas (by combining these data with morphological data on agglomerations), and areas of influence of service poles (on the basis of data about services). In France for instance, such data have made it possible for the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (INSEE) and La Délégation interministérielle à l’Aménagement du Territoire et à l’Attractivité Régionale (DATAR) to design the maps of territoires vécus (living territories) which provided the information needed for the policies of “pays”, “agglomerations”, and “metropolitan cooperation”. in a cross-border context, however, such systematic treatment is problematic due to the lack of homogeneous cross-border data. territories are quite real, and require specific research: whether on the basis of local data using the limited potential offered by existing data at European scale, or in the form of joint action involving national institutes in cross-border activities.
such research ought to cover the different scales of cross-border territories mentioned above: morphological agglomerations, as well as travel to work areas, metropolitan areas, and urban or rural Euro-regions. this would allow the development of evidence-based policies at various levels: local, alongside borders (the Franco-Belgian border, for example), and national, European.
Let us examine some of the difficulties challenging cross-border spatial information and planning. one of these is the lack of information and evidence at a local, cross-border level. there are few monographs on cross-border statistical monitoring, and those that do exist are of uneven quality and not clearly linked to any political project. the poor understanding of cross-border territories (differentials across borders, as well as links and flows) hinders the implementation of coherent public policies. Border effects sometimes create severe difficulties for resident border populations, as in the field of housing. inadequate knowledge of public facilities and services on either side of the border results in deficiencies and duplication. these aspects significantly hinder the perception of common cross border interests and the implementation of cross-border projects.
Lack of evidence also creates democratic deficits in a cross-border territory in which inhabitants do not elect their own representatives. For a territory is experienced as a cross-border area not only because of the activities of the population and the socioeconomic actors, but also in a diffuse, irregular, non-conceptualised manner, which is not identified politically. the right to a cross-border citizenship, to a “360° territory”, has yet to be formulated.
the latter would make it possible to demonstrate the existence of a cross-border territory when the latter is required to prove that it exists: unlike the situation with a “customary” territory, where the evidence is already available. it impedes recognition of the singularity of these territories, of their role in the territorial development of the states concerned, and in the construction of Europe. it also obstructs potential, specific funding.
how should cross-border territories be defined or their existence demonstrated? and how can their singularity be publicised in the various national and European systems? at a national or EU level, there is only a limited awareness of the existence of cross-border conurbations, metropolitan areas, and Euro-regions (Mot/Institut igeat de l’Université libre de Bruxelles 2006: 140). the sectoral approach predominates in the European view of cross-border cooperation.
At higher levels, national authorities have generally failed to develop the statistical monitoring of cross-border territories. There is no “top-down” guidance and no coordination; nor is there any convergence of indicators, scales, periods and dates of cross-border statistical monitoring. The absence of an overall view prevents any comparison with other cross-border or “national” territories. Furthermore, the low level of networking between cross-border monitoring bodies must be deplored. Consequently, these territories have too low a profile at a national level, which may result in unsuitable legislative and regulatory frameworks (land use planning, taxes, housing, transport, health, environment, education, etc.).
At the European level, one would expect the development of European statistics to compensate for the inadequacies of national systems, but the Eurostat system does not have a sufficiently sharp and uniform territorial grid (there is a limited amount of local data; the heterogeneity of NUTS on both sides of various borders). There is no top-down methodology transfer in this area, nor is there any capitalization of local cross-border statistical experience.
This rather negative statement should not lead to the conclusion that nothing has been done in the field of cross-border spatial information. Several cross-border territories have been able to experiment in the field, thanks to the commitment of elected representatives and technicians. In the French-Swiss France-Vaud-Geneva cross-border conurbation, a very efficient monitoring programme allows the mapping of many fields of the same scale on both sides of the border, and supports the implementation of cross border policies. Elsewhere, regional and national administrations have experimented in promising forms of cooperation (Atlas—cross border cooperation between Belgium and France). At the EU level, at least some pioneering work ought to be welcome: the Urban Audit (carried out by DG
Regio and Eurostat in cooperation with the network of national statistical institutes) now covers the France-Vaud-Geneva conurbation, and not only the City of Geneva.
But what should be done to extend these first attempts? Cross-border monitoring should be initiated and pursued by politicians in order to create a shared understanding of cross-border territories. This requires mobilising existing local statistics institutions, encouraging the dissemination of know-how and the networking of existing cross-border monitoring processes on different scales: local (conurbations, employment areas, metropolitan areas, rural territories, etc.) and regional, along each border: including national statistics institutes, as well as European institutions and programmes (Eurostat, Urban Audit, ESPON etc.).
In principle, the basic statistical level, the municipality, should be used for providing feedback to the respective mayors. Finding evidence requires going beyond monitoring; it also means doing applied research on cross-border territories: on their productive and residential economies and on the typologies of different borders in Europe, and providing a territorial overview of the potential of cross-border integration.
But cross-border spatial information remains useless if evidence is not mobilised to improve activities serving cross-border territories. Cross-border monitoring must inform territorial and sectoral planning and strategies (e.g. urban travel plans and local housing plans). Regulations governing public policies must be amended when necessary. The activities of cross-border planning agencies in the field of spatial information should be funded by the programmes of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective. Where appropriate, Joint Technical Secretariats should be asked by local, regional and national partners to contribute towards spatial monitoring at the level of the border or the macro-region concerned.
Last but not least, we need to promote a greater awareness of cross-border territories and their role in the construction of Europe. At a local level, the aim should be to foster ownership by their respective populations, socioeconomic actors and public authorities, and allow them to manage border effects in a better way, enhance border potential and initiate a process that brings about the democratic governance of these territories. At the level of regions and states, an awareness among bodies whose policies have an impact on these territories (sectoral policies, planning policies) should facilitate the development of cross-border and macro-regional strategies and projects, supported by a cohesion policy (as well convergence, competitiveness and cooperation strands) and national programmes. At the EU
level, the contribution of cross-border territories and macro-regions to European development has to be recognised in ongoing political processes, and reflected in EU policies and intergovernmental process (Territorial Agenda).
Cross-border territories are experienced by their inhabitants, and supported to an ever greater degree by their elected representatives, on both sides of the border. However, they are not always recognised by actors at the regional, national or European levels. This lack of recognition raises a problem. Territories where cross-border flows are high (e.g. the France-Luxembourg border) reveal certain paradoxes: many French workers benefit from the cross-border situation by taking jobs in Luxembourg, which also benefits French national authorities as it reduces unemployment. But defining and funding efficient and fair local public services for populations and businesses raises a number of technical problems. Furthermore, the issue of democratic participation, as exemplified in the European vote in Lorraine and singularly in the North Lorraine border area, changed between the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, when those who voted “Yes” won, and the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, when those who voted “No” dominated (Auburtin 2008: 259). But is a mechanical Europe, deprived of citizens’ ownership, where the inhabitants’ well-being is left to the vicissitudes of the market, really desirable? If European integration really is a political project, the integration of cross-border territories or macro-regions ought to be one of its most emblematical achievements. This is confirmed by several substantial contributions to the debate that was launched by the Green paper on territorial cohesion (European Commission 2008a), in which cross-border territories claim to be laboratories for European territorial cohesion (EUROMOT 2009: 3).
Whatever the case may be, cross-border territories, such as the entire territory of the EU, require not only spatial information, but also the commitment of academics and planners who are prepared to devote their analyses and capacity to raise questions to these integration processes, even if these are difficult subjects. Decision-makers in the field of cross-border spatial planning and territorial development need evidence in order to act and gain recognition for their territories.
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La Délégation interministérielle à l'Aménagement du Territoire et à l'Attractivité Régionale.
Nomenclature commune des unités territoriales statistiques (territorial units esablished for statistical purposes).
We propose to use the word coordination rather than cooperation (as in the ESDP), which makes it possible to reserve the latter for cooperation between independent authorities: cooperation between cities, regions, and even between the authorities of different countries, as in the case of the European territorial cooperation objective.
AEBR Association of European Border Regions, CPMR Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, CRFG Comité régional franco-genevois, ESDP European Spatial Development Perspective, JTS Joint Technical Secretariats, OPs Operational Programmes, TEN Trans-European Networks
See for example the Netherlands taking into account neighbouring states' policies while designing their National Spatial Plan.