Transborder cooperation network

The cooperation network in the area covered by the Mecklenburg- Vo r pomme r n-B randen bu rg- Po land programme was made up of 118 organisations (constituting the network nodes) joined by 512 connections in total (which were the networks’ edges).1 Together they formed 24 complete networks,2 with one main component grouping as many as 43 organisations (Figure 12.5). There were relatively few' isolated pairs of organisations that realised only one project and did not have relationships with others, which resulted partly from the fact that the number of organisations taking part in transborder activities was relatively low'. The cooperation netw'ork was poorly developed, with a density of 0.0371,3 and the network’s organisations w'ere on average connected with four other units.

The cooperation netw'ork in Brandenburg/Lubuskie Voivodeship borderland was characterised by a low density (0.0399). It comprised 121 organisations, linked by 628 connections (organisations within this network had connections w'ith four other units on average). They created 16 components, with the main one containing 85 units (Figure 12.5, panel 2). The key position in the network of transborder cooperation - i.e. a so-called point of intersection - w'as displayed by the Markisch-Oderland poviat, Frankfurt (Oder), the Krosnienski poviat and the Oder-Spree poviat connected with it (the relationship between them could be described as a ‘bridge’ without w'hich the component would break into two separate parts). Without the above- mentioned units, the network would be much more dispersed, and the main component would not cover such a large group of organisations.

The cooperation netw'ork in the area of Saxony-Poland was shaped a little differently (Figure 12.5, panel 3). It comprised a greater number of organisations - 216 - and as many as 832 edges connecting them. Each

Distribution of organisations by the number of projects realised as part of transborder cooperation programme Mecklenburg-Vorpommern- Brandenburg-Poland

Figure 12.4 Distribution of organisations by the number of projects realised as part of transborder cooperation programme Mecklenburg-Vorpommern- Brandenburg-Poland, Poland-Brandenburg and Saxony Poland in 2007-2013 Source: Own study, on the basis of data from the Ministerstwo Rozwoju (Ministry of Development) and JTS.

organisation had an average of 3.15 connections with other organisations from the network. It was very dispersed, with 41 components, of which the main one contained 102 organisations. Connections resulting from cooperation under the Saxony-Poland programme had a very low density (0.018). The paucity of connections was a result of the higher number of organisations, a large percentage of which were in isolated pairs and triads - i.e. units connected only with one another under a single common project.

In the spatial context, intensive relationships between partners of transborder cooperation projects were observed in areas situated directly at the Polish-German border (Figure 12.6). This in particular concerned the area between Police, Szczecin, Gorzow Wielkopolski, Sulecin and Zgorzelec on the Polish side and Locknitz, Pasewalk, Seelow and Gorlitz on the German side. The development of intensive relationships between relatively

Transborder cooperation network under Mecklenburg-Vorpommern- Brandenburg-Poland

Figure 12.5 Transborder cooperation network under Mecklenburg-Vorpommern- Brandenburg-Poland, Brandenburg-Poland and Saxony-Poland programmes between 2007 and 2013 by the degree indicator, country of origin and the type of activity of an organisation Source: Own study, on the basis of data from the Ministerstwo Rozwoju (Ministry of Development) and JTS.

Connections between beneficiaries realisingjoint projects underthe transborder cooperation programmes of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Brandenburg- Poland, Poland-Brandenburg and Saxony-Poland in 2007-201

Figure 12.6 Connections between beneficiaries realisingjoint projects underthe transborder cooperation programmes of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Brandenburg- Poland, Poland-Brandenburg and Saxony-Poland in 2007-2013 Source: Own study, on the basis of data from the Ministerstwo Rozwoju (Ministry of Development) and JTS.

geographically close units seems to be very important, as it usually positively affects the shaping of a transborder region and its integrated development, as well as influencing the lives of local citizens or tourists in the ‘transborder’ context. Connections between units located further away from the Polish- German border have also been observed and mainly involve single contacts between larger towns.

Among the most active organisations in terms of the number of projects in the Polish-German borderland between 2007 and 2013 were the city of Gubin (11 projects) together with the neighbouring Guben (nine), Markisch-Oderland poviat (nine), the city of Zgorzelec (nine) and Zgorzelec commune (eight), the city of Forst (Lausitz) (eight), the cities of Frankfurt (Oder), Cottbus and Schwedt/Oder (seven projects each), the University of Zielona Gora (seven) and Police commune (seven). In terms of the concentration of transborder cooperation activities measured by the total number of projects from a given city, two cities stand out: Zielona Gora and Dresden (about 20 projects each). The cities of Gorlitz, Szczecin, Wroclaw, Frankfurt (Oder), Zgorzelec, Gorzow Wielkopolski and Zittau also played an important role in this respect. This was the effect of the cooperation activity of a few organisations from these cities.

As a result of their identified cooperation structures with the dominating role of territorial government units (mainly at the local level), the most influential factors leading these units to enter transborder relations need to be analysed.

The activity of local governments should be assessed as high. However, studies conducted by Raczyk, Dolzblasz and Lesniak-Johann (2012) indicate that this activity most often was not the result of strategically planned activities but of varying external circumstances (e.g. the possibility of realising transborder projects). The behaviour of the local government was rather passive and did not result from systemic, complex and long-term cooperation- orientated activities and development of the borderland. This lack of involvement was mainly the result of insufficient incorporation of cooperation in strategic planning by local governments (and sometimes their disregard of this issue altogether) and the lack of a transborder planning system that could result in a complex and long-term cooperation policy.

Although allocation amounts in particular programmes differed between the Polish and German sides and were asymmetric (in favour of the Polish side), in the practice of their implementation there was a tendency to strive for symmetry. This resulted from allocation mechanisms applied by the European Commission, Poland and Germany and was manifested in the generally similar number of Polish and German beneficiaries. What is worth stressing is the fact that the volume of support for Polish and German beneficiaries was usually proportional to each country’s contribution to the common budget, which meant abiding by an unwritten rule of proportional allocation. Such an attitude resulted from pragmatism and prevented conflicts from arising. This, in turn, translated into the symmetry of the administrative system engaged in transborder cooperation, and at the same time asymmetry in the accessibility to funds. However, this did not cause significant problems in the development of mutual relationships, as it partly compensated for the asymmetry on the level of economic development, with Germany as the stronger side.

The institutional system functioning in the Polish-German borderland displayed a high level of cooperation compared to the remaining Polish borderlands, including the entering into relationships with a multitude of partners under various programmes. This indicates the influence of the interdependence factor, connected with the longest-lasting and greatest (in financial terms) transborder cooperation. In this context, interdependence seems to rely significantly on the time frame of establishing transborder relations, as well as (to a slightly lesser degree) the amount of financial aid involved in the process.

The character of cooperation is well represented in the number of project consortia. In the Polish-German borderland, the majority of projects were realised by two institutions only (66 to 68 per cent). The decisive domination of two-partner projects was closely related to the large number of institutions participating in cooperation and its dispersed character.

In view of the results of network analysis, it needs to be stated that a large number of organisations engaged in cooperation translates into a lower density in terms of the network. The density increases with a decrease in the number of organisations. This poses a dilemma concerning the desirable shape of the network (and, at the same time, cooperation). Should future EU policy promote cooperation that is egalitarian (numerous organisations engaged in cooperation, creating a network of low density) or, rather, elite in character (fewer organisations, with greater network density and distinctive key organisations)?

The most desirable situation and ‘ideal’ shape of a transborder cooperation network would be the involvement of various organisations with a dense network of connections between them. This would require increased diversification on the part of the beneficiary structure and the promotion of projects realised by large consortia.

The real reach of transborder relations is largely dependent on the factor of border proximity, and, in fact, concerns a strip of one or two communes where the majority of partnerships are situated. The size of the support area did not have a significant effect on the spatial distribution of the beneficiaries’ activity. Such a clear connection between the location and the factor of the distance from the border indicates that the role of the Polish-German border as a barrier is very limited; the opposite situation was observed at highly formalised borders (e.g. the eastern Polish border, which is also the external EU border) (Jakubowski el ai, 2017).

 
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