Analysis of the role and of the added value of cross-border structures and agreements during the pandemic

AuthorRubio, Jean; Peyrony, Jean; Viaggi, Raffaele
This assignment made it even clearer that there are at least as many approaches
to CBC as there are European borders. European borders are differently equipped
with CB governance structures or agreements, with a risk of increased vulnerability
in the case of border shutdowns for those borders where well-established ties are
weaker (e.g. FR-IT border). On the other side, while some borders had little formal
governance (e.g. IE-UK) the resilience of local actors and citizens of border regions
allowed to overcome uncoordinated measures taken by the administrations and
maintain cooperation.
The degree of efficiency and the role of these structures during the first phase of
the pandemic were extremely diverse. In some areas, CB structures were on the
frontline in managing and coordinating local stakeholders to tackle the crisis
(Euregio Meuse-Rhine). In other regions, they were not empowered to do so and
therefore limited their action in order to leave the lead to other local, regional or
national authorities (e.g. Grand Est region). Nonetheless, even in this latter case,
the fact that Eurodistricts did not take the lead does not mean that these structures
did not play an active role. Theywere requested to focus on some specific activities
(e.g. information, interpretation of evolving national measures, gathering local
health stakeholders, etc.), as can be seen in the PAMINA Eurodistrict.
This chapter aims at discussing the effects of the COVID-19 measures on the
governance of cross-border regions. It includes a preliminary assessment of the
role of cross-border legal structures and agreements in the process of deciding and
implementing those measures.
To do so, the links between the specificity of the measures taken and the existence
of well-established cross-border legal structures or formal cooperation agreements
will also be examined, in order to understand in which field they can represent a
real added-value.
In most of the cases, CB structures were active in a large variety of
actions, ranging from content creation to political advocacy, as can be
seen in the case presented by an interviewee at the DE-PL border:
In front of this unprecedented crisis, the Euroregion Spree-Neiße-Bober tried to
be as reactive as possible: it took record of problems and addressed them to the
right parties; it played an important role with regard to the citizens and helped
taking contact, translating, etc. It served as a contact point for many stakeholders,
it raised awareness via the letter to the ministries lobbying to open the border, it
informed various stakeholders on different political levels.”
In the following pages, we will therefore examine the different activities carried
out by CB structures, their limits and the reasons which sometimes impeded them
to go further.
The chapter is structured around the four following chapters:
1. Understanding the role played by cross-border structures during the
first wave of the pandemic
2. The added-value of cross-border structures and of cooperation
agreements to tackle the specific effects of the pandemic in border
3. Lessons learnt from the management of the crisis (successes and
4. Recommendations for the future regarding cross-border structures
and agreements

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