Not sure if this wets anyone’s tongue, but I ended up writing a quick ~500 word abstract about Cross Border Cooperation, and I mean… it’s not terrible (somehow). If you’re into that nonsense, you should go for it !
For as long as state security has been considered an academic topic, the concept of borders has always been a double-sided coin. Some see it as a barrier, an instrument to prevent undesirable activities from reaching their country. Others see it as an opportunity. As our world grows increasingly connected by the day through the formation of nation-states and rising importance of supranational entities, the definition of border is changing. Instead of looking for methods in which to secure their borders, regions are finding ways to expand and grow the already geographical similarities between budding communities.
Implementing cross-border cooperation has always been a balance between security concerns and economic opportunity. Education is one approach to enhancing collaboration between regions and municipalities. Enhancing the mobility of students, researchers and even teachers has an astonishing impact on economic development. The transfer of skills and knowledge between two separate communities can grow to effect not just individual universities and schools, but also the tourism industry as a whole. This in turn has an even greater impact on the GDP of both bordering countries.
However, education is not the only manner in which cooperation can be instigated. Sole economic action results in a different kind of change. Foreign investment by regional bodies on both sides of a border can lead to sustainable development in living standards. By working together in potential joint projects that boost a combination of tourism, local interests, and international collaboration, living standards can increase independent of the region.
The relationship between Finland and Russia operates as a prime example of highly refined cross-border cooperation, using both education and economic incentives to power their efforts. Since the early 1990’s, the Finnish and Russian governments have individually acted to fund these neighborhood programs, which include innovative ideas such as the Finnish-Russian Innovation University. This new and exciting opportunity for change is an educational network between universities from both countries. Emphasis is entirely placed on border crossing while simultaneously developing different methods of contemporary research. Furthermore the increase of trade between Finland and Russia can be attributed to a rise in tourist traffic and foreign investment on the behalf of Finland in St. Petersburg.
It is almost impossible for multi-level governance to not be enhanced by border collaboration. The usage of local means to promote change, such as town council meetings or people-to-people exchange is instrumental in providing a “bottom up” approach. However without support from regional/supranational organizations (i.e. the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), etc.) and governments, many of the impacts that lead to an increase in tourism and trade could not impact the populace. The cooperation that is fostered by this policy approach cannot be discounted, as it forces both local and national governing structures to interact in a way that is positive for communities on either side of the border.