Cross border cooperation and role of the EU in supporting integrated spatial development

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“Sustainable spatial development is an underemphasized goal of national and international policy because national borders confine distribution of economic benefits while contributing to unbalance when the physical plan of one country affects the ecological service flows to another” [1]

Role of the EU in supporting cross border cooperation

Ladysz comments that decision-making for spatial development tends to be poorly integrated and is determined by individual states planning applications. Accession to the EU played a role supporting cross border sustainable development. In 1991 a major step was taken to engage partners across the “Black Triangle” border region of Czech Republic, Poland and Germany to solve the problem of the worst air pollution in Europe due to mining activity through the Joint Air Monitoring System funded by the PHARE program, in preparation for Accession to the EU to meet the requirements of the Air Quality Directives of the European Commission. The following EU instruments aim to support further cross-border cooperation.

EU instruments


The Phare programme is a pre-accession instrument to assist the applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe in their preparations for joining the European Union. It is focused on institutional and capacity-building and investment financing.[2]

European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP)

Spatial development policies are intended to ensure the balanced and sustainable development of the Union territory in accordance with the basic objectives of Community policy: economic and social cohesion, knowledge-based economic competitiveness complying with the principles of sustainable development and the conservation of diverse natural and cultural resources.[3]

INTERREG Community Initiative

Interreg is an initiative that aims to stimulate cooperation between regions in the European Union. It started in 1989, and is financed under the European Regional Development Fund.

The overall objective of the INTERREG IVC Programme is to improve the effectiveness of regional policies and instruments. A project builds on the exchange of experiences among partners who are ideally responsible for the development of their local and regional policies. The areas of support are innovation and the knowledge economy, environment and risk prevention. Typical tools for exchange of experience are networking activities such as thematic workshops, seminars, conferences, surveys, and study visits. Project partners cooperate to identify and transfer good practices. Possible project outcomes include for example case study collections, policy recommendations, strategic guidelines or action plans.[4]

CADSES Central, Adriatic, Danubian and South-Eastern European Space

CADSES aims at achieving higher territorial and economic integration within the co-operation area, promoting more balanced and harmonious development of the European space. CADSES has carried out the mission of INTERREG into four priorities and twelve measures covering themes like spatial, urban and rural development and immigration (Priority 1), transport systems and access to the information society (Priority 2), landscape, natural and cultural heritage (Priority 3) and environment protection, resource management and risk prevention (Priority 4)[5]

Actors in regional sustainable development

An example of multi-partner, cross border cooperation for regional development is the Euroregion model. As Ladysz comments, “integration beyond borders means not only the establishment of physical and institutional preconditions but also a dense network of contacts and interactions” (Ladysz 2006: 4). Vision Planet, a project funded by the CADSES programme, produced the only strategic document for transnational spatial development, which formulated guidelines, strategies and policies and developed the Euroregions concept. Euroregions should include city and regional partnerships, common infrastructure and conservation projects, and cross-border co-operation between medium and small scale enterprises are all components of European spatial integration (Ladysz 2006: 4).

Ore Mountains Euroregion

Ore Mountains Euroregion is a voluntary community of interest, founded in 1992, to promote cross-border cooperation between neighbouring areas of North Bohemia in the Czech Republic and Erzgebirgskreis and Mittelsachsen in Germany in all fields.

The Ore Mountains Euroregion partnership has identified the following priorities to guide their work[6]:

  • Ecological Renewal of the Ore Mountains
  • Develop spatial and regional planning concepts
  • Improvement of cross-border traffic
  • Development of the economic potential
  • Promotion of culture, sports, education and tourism
  • Joint working in the field of fire protection and disaster relief, as well as the emergency services and in the social sphere

See also: Euroregion Krušnohoří website

Interactive map available:

The Czech membership of the Euroregion comprises 32 industrial companies, cultural, educational and research organizations, among which 19 are twinned with similar German organsiations. The organization further comprises 83 towns and smaller settlements, 32 of which are twinned with German settlements. The model is self funded by its members (each town or village contributes based on the size of its population) and conducts various activities such as a series of workshops to address cross border water management, research on the possibilities to minimize content of organic pollutants in drinking water sources, tree-planting activities, monitoring ecological conditions, an Advent concert, a high school mathematics competition, young firefighters competition, sports competition for disabled young people, development of the database of monuments working towards UNESCO World Heritage recognition, a project to link research and development for small and medium size enterprises, map-making activities, literary events, and tourism development project (Euroregion Krušnohoří Annual Report 2011).

Regional development recommendations

According to Ladysz[1], there are five priorities for regional development

  1. technical and administrative exchanges between local authorities to “realize targeted regional visions”,
  2. strengthen the role of Euroregions particularly in terms of ecological and societal concerns,
  3. improve methodologies for assessing degraded landscape,
  4. “upgrade Environmental Impact Assessments to include assessing alternative projects and projections of ecological service flows” and
  5. to create special conservation areas or areas of cultural interest from abandoned mine sites (Ladysz 2006: 6).


Euroregion Krušnohoří Annual Report 2011 Euroregio Erzgerbirge website: accessed 29.8.2012