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Inducing Transboundary Regionalism in Asymmetric Situations: The Case of the German-Polish Border

James Wesley Scott, Kimberly Collins


The German-Polish border region, located along the European Union's eastern boundary, is characterized by sharp disparities in living standards and development. It also is a zone of contact between two very different political traditions and cultures that often have confronted each other in conflict. Since 1990, cooperation attempts on the German-Polish border have been actively encouraged by EU and German government agencies and supported through the creation of Euroregions, intergovernmental advisory boards, and other international bodies. Transboundary regionalism is seen as a means of promoting integrated development and socioeconomic cohesion within the context of European expansion and integration.

However, evaluations of German-Polish cooperation indicate that the creation of new institutions of cross-border planning is not enough; in order to be effective, German-Polish transboundary regionalism must not only prevail against policy discontinuities caused by administrative mismatches but also transcend traditional interagency rivalries within national contexts. Furthermore, it must engage both communities and senior governments on both sides of the border as partners in a regional development dialogue. This would require combining available resources at various levels, including a synergistic utilization of transboundary links of public and private agencies at various levels. Nevertheless, a vital question remains as to the proper mix of formal institutions and informal networks required in order to achieve this. Here, experiences from other international border regions, such as the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, could provide important comparative insights.

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