Project press releases

26 November 2013; Estonian-Russian stakeholder conference/ Narva Forum takes place on November 27-28, in Narva, Estonia

Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation and Narva College of the University of Tartul organized “Narva Forum” on Estonian-Russian cross border cooperation on 27-28 November, in the Estonian border town of Narva.

Narva Forum/ Peipsi Forum is traditionally organized at the end of each year to bring together experts and stakeholders from Estonian and Russian border areas and EU experts to exchange views on experiences and to deliberate on the future of transboundary cooperation in the region. Forums have taken place already 10 times, both on the Estonian side – Tartu, the Russian side – Pskov, and this year in Narva.

This week more than sixty cross border cooperation experts and stakeholders from Estonia, Russia and also Norway meet in Narva. Forum themes are devoted to common challenges for environmental and sustainable tourism issues, to cross border educational and scientific cooperation.  Several successful projects, financed by the EstLatRus CBC program, are presented, for example the environmental education project “People with Nature”, the Narva-Ivangorod common heritage and tourism development project “EstRusFortress Tour” or the water management and water transport related project “Economically and environmentally sustainable Lake Peipsi”. In addition, the first results on cross border regions sociological study, conducted within EU FP7 funded project “EUBRDERREGION”, will be introduced.

Read more about the Estonian-Rusian border area:

1 October 2013; EUBORDERREGIONS Policy Seminar, in Ankara in September  28, 2013.

 The EUBORDERREGIONS seminar was aimed at project primary concern, whether local and regional co-operation at the EU’s external borders can be seen as an important area of Neighbourhood policies rather than just an “add on” that helps fill the gaps left in the Action Programmes. Rather than focus on technical and supposedly “objective” criteria we primarily addressed issues of a socio-cultural nature and their political ramifications, namely:

  • the question of European values and the suggestion that these can be the basis of common vocabularies and practises of cooperation
  •  the suggestion that the EU does not take civil society in neighbouring countries seriously because of a lack of trust and lack of local knowledge
  • the suggestion that EU “conditionality” undermines EU credibility
  • the notion that in reality, ENP is not so much about reaching out to the societies of the Neighbourhood but rather to establish a status quo with elites of those countries in order to promote stability and EU economic, energetic interests
  • the alternative notion that EU soft power is real and a potentially positive force for change but is not being employed properly

Professor Attila Eralp, Director of the Centre of European Studies at METU, presided over the seminar and made a number of prescient remarks regarding these questions. The first issue that Prof. Eralp emphasized was the need to rethink the framework and policies of ENP given a quickly changing situation in Turkey, in Europe and around the world more generally. Major transformations are taking place in the Middle East, the Black Sea Region, the Caucasus and elsewhere. There is also a major shift underway in the rise of new political actors in the international system and the relative decline of EU and the West in general. Conventional frameworks and policies, particularly in the context of EU neighbourhood, need urgent renewal. Since its inception, the ENP has been based on a top-down and state centric approach. It has favoured, above all, stability and a neo-liberal market prescription. This model has also been linked to the existence of and cooperation with authoritarian regimes in the region and is now clearly showing its limitations. Of course, as Prof. Eralp added, the EU is rethinking its role and is trying to define a new policy through developing bottom-up strategies despite a largely top-down political context. It is trying to empower social agents of change and in line with this new approach the EU is focusing on local NGO’s and is trying to address social problems. However there remain delivery deficits because of the crisis in the EU, a deficit of coherence and a basic lack of flexibility in ENP. Furthermore, there is the deficit of three M’s; money, market, mobility, which were initially the main pillars of ENP. All are now problematic in that there is a lack of appropriate incentives instead of a good balance between conditionality and cooperation incentives. The EU cannot solve regional problems by itself. No single actor can achieve this. Unilateral approaches have their limits; there is the need of partnerships at all levels.

The overall consensus was that the EU must do much more to effectively develop regional cooperation based on partnership rather than just conditionality. Additionally, the EUBORDERREGIONS team asked the question whether, given the very complex nature of EU-Neighbourhood relations, there should be a geographical fixation with border regions and border proximity. CBC could also take place as networks between cities and regions, regardless of location, and these could become a major focus of ENPI funding. The participants in the seminar also agreed that social agents and actors need a greater voice in the regional cooperation process of building a viable Neighbourhood. This is particularly relevant to a more inclusive definition of partnership which involves local domestic actors. 

8 May 2012; EUBORDERREGIONS project Workshop III, takes place in Budapest, May 9-11.The workshop will be followed by the EUBORDERREGIONS conference "Exploring Borders, Cross-Border Co-operation and European Cohesion” on May 12.

The workshop discusses activities and results of project 10 work packages, two last days are devoted to the Fieldwork Training. The fieldwork on nine case study border regions from Barents Sea to Mediterranean will start in summer 2012 and is aimed to investigate local perceptions of the European Union’s role in promoting regional development. 
Third workshop is organized by project Hungarian partner - TÁRKI Social Research Institute. 
On May 12, EUBORDERREGIONS public conference: “Exploring Borders, Cross-Border Co-operation and European Cohesion” takes place , in Budapest in cooperation with Central European University.

1 May 2012; Two EUBORDERREGIONS new working papers by Filippo Celata and Raffaella Coletti from Department Memotef, University of Rome La Sapienza:

“Soft, mobile or networked?  Cross-border cooperation and the topology of the European Union external frontier” and

“EUrope and its ‘other’: free trade and the geographical imagineries of Euro-Mediterranean politics”  

are now available under Project deliverables:  working papers

22 March 2012; EUBORDERREGIONS Working Papers Series nr. 1 “Laboratories of European integration: city-twinning in Northern Europe” is ready. The present work by Pertti Joenniemi and Alexander Sergunin approaches the question of cohesion and cross-border co-operation in Europe through the lens of local actors – of communities. The concept of twin-cities as drivers of local economic and political integration is an intriguing one but has only sporadically been investigated in comparative terms.

This EUBORDERREGIONS working paper offers a detailed discussion of local attempts to “reconstruct” local borders, including in areas located at the external borders of Schengen-Europe. Twin cities as co-operation partners also reflect wider geopolitical contexts that impact on local and regional development in border areas. 

04 January 2012.   FP 7 Programme project “EUBORDERREGIONS” welcomes the New Year with our 2nd Newsletter.Download Newsletter

- The Newsletter starts with the welcome by Dr. James Scott,  project manager, who believes that  the year 2012  "promises to be a tumultuous year in economic, political and social terms. Traditional politics “as usual” might not be enough to guide us through the creative, complex but often frightening unruliness that is our contemporary world. Part of the raison d’etre of EUBORDERREGIONS is the proposition that co-operation, dialogue and openness are still our main resources for social and economic development and dealing with the challenges of diversity.”  

-  During the last workshop in Vienna, the project case study areas were decided and 2nd Newsletter describes some of those. In total, case study research takes place in 11 border regions from Barents Sea to Mediterranean to investigate local perceptions of the European Union’s role in promoting regional development.

 - You can also read  Xavier Ferrier-Gallardo´s article “On islam and European identity”  and .upcoming events.

04 July 2011 EUborderregions 1st newsletter published. First newsletter gives an overview about the project, related events and ctivities. There is also warm greeting from project manager and some information about the consortium.
Newsletter is available here:  ISSUE 1_01.07.2011.pdf 

13 March 2011. The EUBORDERREGIONS Kickoff-Workshop was held in Riga (Latvia) on 11- 13 March 2011. Representatives from all 14 participating organisations were in attendance as well as Ms. Pia Laurila, from the EU's Directorate General for Research and Innovation. During the two-day meeting, the consortium  discussed the overall objectives of the project, time table, reporting requirements, budgets and next important steps in the project. Most were also able to visit the beautiful old town of Riga and enjoy the many historical, architectural, cultural and gastronomic attractions.

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Dr. James Scott
Project manager
Ph: (+358) 50366 0653
Project information
Project duration: 01.03.2011-28.02.2015
Lead partner: University of Eastern Finland
Total budget: 3 386 700 €
EU contribution: 2 644 090 €