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Advancing Integration or Constructing New Barriers to Co-operation? Stimuli and Restrictions for Cross-Border Communication at the Polish Eastern Border on the Eve of EU Enlargement

Annegret Haase, Andreas Wust


The upcoming enlargement of the EU in 2004 will impose a new framework on the regions on both sides of its future external border. On the one hand, the direct neighborhood at this border will encourage economic and infrastructural development in various ways in both the regions being integrated into the EU and those that will be newly adjacent to it. On the other hand, these regions and their inhabitants face the problem that new border regimes regulated by the Schengen Agreement will considerably limit cross-border communication and the extent of unbureaucratic co-operation. Against this background, different conflicts of interest are shaping public debate on several spatial levels, while local specifics run the risk of being largely ignored. This article addresses the consequences the EU enlargement will have for regions at its future external border. Will it encourage the further integration of these regions-or instead obstruct small-scale cross-border communication? Starting from a theoretical discussion of the main question and taking into account empirical evidence from research carried out at the Polish eastern border in 2000-02, it is argued that EU enlargement will bring about a new phase of cross-border reality in Central Eastern Europe involving both stimuli and limitations for cooperation. The extent to which integration will be advanced or new barriers to co-operation will be erected within the next few years will depend on both the political and instrumental framework at the (supra-) national level as well as concrete decision-making processes, trade-offs and choices by local actors.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229