Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

So, just what is Territorial Cohesion?

Nope, that's not a trick question. Not content with having rebranded INTERREG as "Territorial Co-operation" for the 2007-2013 period, the EU has also come up with a concept similar in name, and not a million kilometres away in content, with "Territorial Cohesion".

Well, we think it's close in content. It's a bit difficult to tell, as the Commission has managed to issue a Green Paper on the subject without actually defining what it is (ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/consultation/terco/consultation_en.htm). In fact, the Commission seems quite proud of the fact that there is no definition and stresses that this will depend on reactions to the Green Paper.

Now there may be some twisted logic in there somewhere, but it looks an awful lot like ceding any advantage that you might have from holding the pen. If you put a definition down, no matter how weak, you force people to react to it, and comment on it. Without that framework, reactions could (and probably will) fly off in all directions.

This is especially true with this kind of topic, where every possible regional interest group sees the concept of territorial cohesion in its own narrow perspective. Expect bodies dealing with mountains, cities, rivers, rural, peripheral, island areas and others to have very different ideas about TC (as it should not be called). I suspect the Commission is going to have a tricky time prepare a cohesive summary of the public consultation.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Mexico invades USA (sort of)

With the US distracted by the general election, Mexico took the opportunity to surprise its northern neighbour and has launched an invasion of Arizona.

Of course, I may have exaggerated this story slightly - see media.www.clarksonintegrator.com/media/storage/paper280/news/2008/11/03/News/Mexican.Troops.Illegally.Cross.Border-3521894.shtml

for the accurate picture. Mind you, 42 illegal border crossings in a couple of years is quite impressive.

This reminds me of previous incidents involving the UK and Spain (www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/feb/19/gibraltar.world) and Liechtenstein and Switzerland (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/02/markoliver).

It's good to know that there are so many armies wandering the globe who are fans of INTERREG and co-operation. After all, we don't like the artificial restrictions borders create either.