Adapt governance approaches to the institutional context

Cross-border areas can combine formal and informal governance arrangements

While there is no common model of cross-border governance, there are several elements to characterise them. There is likely a relationship between the breadth of the partnership and the level of authorities involved. Focused fields of intervention corresponding to the areas of work of local authorities would tend to be dominated by these authorities. Wider goals would need to rely on the involvement of regional, and even national authorities, be that in the governance structures or other vehicles for making them aware of the issues and engaged in the solutions.

Most cross-regional partnerships are governed by associations and committees established under voluntary agreements. Such entities provide a basis for developing and implementing cross-border strategies (Box 2.8). They have no regulatory power, but rather act as a platform for co-ordinating policies across the cross-border area, and defining common initiatives. Their stability and effectiveness depends on the availability of continuous funding sources, which is rarely the case (an exception is those structures funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers). They can be severely affected by political changes occurring in one or the other of the constituting regions. A comparative analysis of 11 cross-border co-operation committees in the Nordic countries revealed that the scope, size and organisational modes of these partnerships differ a lot according to the geographical conditions of the areas, the history of collaboration and the level of authorities involved (Nordregio, 2010). Another characteristic of these governance structures is the balance of power achieved between the various parties involved. An asymmetric partnership is likely to hinder the development of integrated cross-border areas, unless those are precisely based on an asymmetric model (such as in the Asian growth triangles).

Some form of secretariat is necessary to create the public goods for cross-border area governance to work. Somebody needs to have cross-border collaboration as their priority, whether through a formal secretariat (co-financed or with civil servants) or through a virtual secretariat with dedicated representatives that have sufficient time to provide the “backbone” work that is often of a public good nature for the whole cross-border area. In some cases, such as the Bothnian Arc Association, the staff is only a couple of people. In the case of the Oresund Committee, it is ten but there are other organisations that provide supporting research and analysis such as the initiative Orestat for cross-border statistics and the think-tank Oresund Institute. InterTradeIreland is a unique case with dedicated staff and significant analysis capacity. In other cases, such as the TTR-ELAt, regional representatives are required to support cross-border activities as part of their daily work, albeit often as only a small fraction of their time.

Formal institutions for cross-border innovation policy are the exception rather than the rule. There are a number of entities established in cross-border areas, such as the Euregions that focus on managing funding from EU programmes. Historically Euregions share three common characteristics. They are: i) driven by public sector initiative, represented by public agencies belonging to contiguous local authorities from two or more countries; ii) established under informal agreements, because local authorities are usually not allowed to enter into formal international agreements; and iii) focused on practical problem-solving issues, usually those under the responsibility of local authorities (Perkmann, 2003). In the TTR-ELAt region, the Euregio Meuse-Rhine

Box 2.8. Examples of cross-border governance committees

The Oresund Committee is the main governance body for the Oresund Region. It is a forum for voluntary political co-operation established in 1993 on the initiative of Swedish and Danish politicians on both sides of the border. It is a political interest organisation that promotes co-operation across the sound at all levels and safeguards the interest of the Oresund Region to the national parliaments of Sweden and Denmark. The Oresund Committee and its Secretariat of ten employees is financed through contributions from its members, the size of the contribution is calculated according to the number of inhabitants in the respective participating municipality or region. Additional funding is provided by the Nordic Council of Ministers and some other external sources.

Centrope, on the basis of the Kittsee Declaration of 2003, works jointly towards the creation of the Central European Region in this four-country quadrangle. Centrope is a joint initiative of three Austrian Lander, two regions in the Slovak Republic, one in the Czech Republic and two in Hungary, as well as several key cities. The Centrope Steering Committee and the Centrope Agency guide the development process and are responsible for its operative implementation. The Steering Committee is a forum for discussion regarding the goals of co-operation and the form these efforts should take. It is the central body of the Centrope initiative, maintaining close contacts with the political level. Its presidency rotates every six months between the four participating countries. Analyses of the Centrope region in the past have noted weak cross-border governance due to imbalances in partner abilities to lead, engage and finance cross-border projects.

The Bothnian Arc Association (two staff) plays a co-ordination and facilitator role. The main public stakeholders of the association are member municipalities, in part because the footprint of the area is often only a small part of the associated regions. National and regional authorities that hold decision-making power and budgets in innovation matters are not on the Board.

Sources: Lundquist, K.-J. and M. Trippl (2009), “Towards cross-border innovation spaces: A theoretical analysis and empirical comparison of Oresund region and the Centrope area”, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Discussion Paper, No. 2009/5,; Nauwelaers, C., K. Maguire and G. Ajmone Marsan (2013), “The case of Oresund (Denmark-Sweden) - Regions and Innovation: Collaborating Across Borders”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2013/21, OECD Publishing, Paris, 3xv0lk8knn-en; Nauwelaers, C., K. Maguire and G. Ajmone Marsan (2013), “The case of the Bothnian Arc (Finland-Sweden) - Regions and Innovation: Collaborating Across Borders”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2013/17, OECD Publishing, Paris, 6b-en.

has existed for many years, and some of the programmes relevant for the TTR-ELAt are initiatives of the Euregio. Helsinki-Tallinn also developed a small Euregio entity, but it was not the main entity responsible for spending cross-border ETC funds and the continuation of funding for the entity remains a concern. The Upper Rhine cross-border area across Germany, France and Switzerland has a long-lasting history of cross-border co-operation that has led to the establishment of a number of cross-border governing entities (Box 2.9).

Box 2.9. Governance institutions in the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region

The Upper Rhine area, across Germany, France and Switzerland has long history of cross-border collaboration. The first cross-border co-operation treaty in the area dates back to the 19th century concerning trade and navigation along the Rhine River. Today, four main institutions are responsible for the cross-border cooperation in the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region.

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