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Half Empty or Half Full? Over 30 Years of Regional Cross-Border Cooperation Within the EU: Experiences at the Dutch–German and Danish–German Border

Martin Klatt, Hayo Herrmann


This article examines four cross-border regions across the Dutch–German and Danish–German border, which now have experience of over 30 years' more or less institutionalized cross-border cooperation: the Euregio Rhein–Ems–Jssel (often referred to as EUREGIO), the Ems–ollart Region, Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig, and Fehmarn Belt Region. The focus is on evaluating barriers against and incentives for cross-border activities in connection with cross-border regional governance. While cross-border cooperation in the form of euroregions today is a common sight on virtually all European borders, research still has limited knowledge on mechanisms involved with cross-border region-building as well as on opportunities for successful cross-border cooperation. The article reveals that the four regions examined, though very different in socio-economic characteristics, cooperation history, and extent, face comparable issues and problems in cross-border cooperation. It shows that the "difference of attractiveness" of each side of the border is a decisive impetus to engage in cross-border activities, providing that "information" on the conditions for cooperation as a decisive variable is available or can be made available through third-party funding such as the Interreg Community Initiative. A lack of "difference of attractiveness" requires third-party funding for sustainable cross-border activities. The euroregions' and their institutions' role is predominantly the role of a cross-border information center, network organizer, and support organization, while their actual governance of self-sustainable cross-border activities remains low.

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