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.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Unusual outbreak of common sense in the UK

In search of better border news, I noticed this refreshing story from London, where the Government has been prevailed upon by Parliament to drop the frankly ludicrous idea of introducing passport checks between the UK and Ireland (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8150930.stm). I know that we are in an era of "increased security concerns" [(c) anyone wanting to introduced greater restrictions on civil liberties], but if the UK never introduced passport checks for visitors from Ireland during the Troubles, then they have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for doing it now.

Of course, the Government evidently feels very uncomfortable about the Common Travel Area, which is essentially a mini-Schengen for the British Isles. They must feel it runs counter to their emphasis on the need for increased security and "fortress UK" [(c) the Border Crosser]. However, Parliament has fortunately seen how much of a backward step this would have been, and have squashed it.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cross-border libraries

A short report from last September from the Centre for Cross Border Studies was missed here at Borderlands HQ. The CCBS is one of the biggest hitters in cross-border co-operation research and has produced a huge amount of material on the Ireland-Northern Ireland border situation. At least, that's my excuse for missing this briefing paper first time round.

The report (http://borderireland.info/discuss/?p=98) focuses on co-operation among public libraries on the island of Ireland, where formal co-operation goes back over 30 years. There are lots of good cross-border project examples included in the report, with the key conclusion being why has this been possible for libraries, but not for other public services.

From a wider perspective, it would certainly be worth looking at whether any of the lessons could be transferable elsewhere in Europe - or indeed whether there are good practices out there waiting to be discovered. Evidently, where there is a common language on both sides of a border, it would make library co-operation more desirable, but it would not be a pre-requisite. This Canadian-US example is probably quite unusual, but is very positive (until the Department for Homeland Security builds fence through the middle of the building): http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Canada,_U.S._to_tighten_security_between_'cross-border'_library

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Onion skewers US wall building

The Border-Crosser has a preference for www.thedailymash.com for a good dose of news-related humour in the morning. However, sometimes www.theonion.com manages to hit the nail 100% on the head. This is its brilliant take on the the US-Mexico border barrier: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/mexico_builds_border_wall_to_keep?utm_source=a-section

Friday, 3 July 2009

Positive news from the Baltic

This blog seems to have been mostly about negatives recently, what with the Slovenes and Croats, and Americans and Mexicans, all increasing border tensions rather than easing them. So, to add a more positive light on events, check out the excellent new project brochure from the Baltic Sea Region transnational programme here: http://eu.baltic.net/redaktion/download.php?id=845&type=file

As usual with the BSR programme, you get a good, clear description of what the project is about and what it intends to achieve. The Border-crosser particularly likes the extra info about how each project links to the Baltic Sea Region Strategy and the extra stamp that Strategy flagship projects receive.

I also have the impression that the projects seem a little more "concrete" than in the past, especially the innovation-related ones. Maybe the Strategy is already beginning to have an impact on funding.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Wrong direction

Not sure how many of you have taken a closer look at Bruce Berman's border-blog, a photo blog on the border cities of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico - the link is in the interesting blog list on the right. The Border-crosser was especially struck by this entry - Welcome to Juarez - showing the "reinforced pathways" of bars that people have to follow to cross the border between two parts of what is essentially the same city.

This is not how things are supposed to be.