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Cross-border cooperation on the EU-Russian borders: results of the program approach

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Cooperation across the Russia-EU border has been drawing much attention in recent years. The majority of studies point out programs’ efficacy, high density of border institutions and resistance to geopolitical risks among other factors. These advancements can be explained by the theory of multilevel collaboration which implies that diverse and multiple cooperation institutions can effectively distinguish matters of high politics from practical issues concerning interests of those living along the external borders.

The article aims to analyze the impact of cross-border cooperation programs (CBC Programs) on the thematic, institutional and spatial structure of the cross-border relations.

The research is grounded in the overview and analysis of a large volume of empirical data including reports and descriptions of cross-border cooperation programs, data provided by the regional governing agencies, as well as 76 semistructured interviews obtained from regional experts as part of several research expeditions by the Laboratory of Geopolitical Studies of the Institute of Geography RAS taken place over the period from 2011 to 2018.

Main characteristics and long-term trends of the cross-border program approach are examined as follows: growth in governmental coordination on various agency levels aimed at development and implementation of mutually beneficial partnerships, creation of joint program management bodies, development of uniform policies and joint funding sources for projects, and interest in maintaining an equal level of collaboration.

It is revealed that gradual rise of the programs’ role in cross-border cooperation in the area contributed to the restructuring of its institutional systems, launching selection process for the existing border institutions (euro-regions, crossborder regional councils, and others), as well as triggering the synergy effect among them and the transborder forms of cooperation.

The main characteristics of spatial partnership structures are identified. These include those consisting of high concentration of project activities taking place within large urban centers along the external borders and those asymmetrical to cross-border interactions. The former is especially pertinent to the Russian side of the border where just a small number of such centers are involved in up to 70-80% of project activities. Even fewer number of Russian cities initiate their own collaborative projects. A gradual spatial shift of cooperative projects toward the areas immediately proximate to the borders, as well as the decrease in asymmetry of transborder cooperation are identified as the new trends by the author. 

About the Author

Alexander B. Sebentsov
Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences; Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Russian Federation




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For citation:

Sebentsov A.B. Cross-border cooperation on the EU-Russian borders: results of the program approach. GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY. 2020;13(1):74-83.

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ISSN 2071-9388 (Print)
ISSN 2542-1565 (Online)