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Transboundary Cooperation on Germany's Borders: Strategic Regionalism through Multilevel Governance

James Wesley Scott


Germany has played a central role in elevating transboundary cooperation to the relatively high political status it now enjoys within the European Union (EU) for geopolitical, economic, and historical reasons. In promoting transboundary cooperation, Germany has pursued an agenda of institutionalization based on the vertical and horizontal integration of different spatial levels of transboundary interaction through both state and nonstate actors that represent European border regions. This essay characterizes and discusses the development of transboundary cooperative organizations along Germany's border and the attempts to establish a system of multilevel governance to address border-related issues. Germany's track record in the latter respect is mixed. Intergovernmental rivalries, as well as basic design flaws in European policy are singled out as primary obstacles to more effective cooperation. The overall political context of transboundary regionalism is framed here in terms of Germany's pivotal economic and political role within the overall project of European integration. Given the ambiguities of cooperative experiences, the essay concludes with more general research questions regarding the significance of transboundary forms of regional governance within an evolving European Union.

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