GAAV

CZECH BORDERLAND AFTER SCHENGEN: A DISTINCT, OSCILLATING AND/OR TRANSIT AREA?


Motto: Borderlands change from being marginal on the national level to being integral on the level of the continuously integrating Europe, whereas regional cooperation that takes place on the cross-border level does not only promote these regions but it also contributes to the construction of identity of these regions (Schabhüser 1993).


Research objectives of the Project

A. enriching and deepening the theoretical foundations of geographic (spatial) organization in general and of borderland issues in particular

1. to define and characterize the role and function of the border in the new circumstances (after the enlargement of the EU in 2004/2007 and of the Schengen Area)
2. to specify the nature, range and content of border effects on both the entire Czech borderland and lower units mainly defined in administrative terms
3. to evaluate the position of the borderland in a broader regional-political context with special attention to the opposing effects of centripetal and centrifugal forces
4. to outline the internal structure of borderland regions and localities un the basis of the time-related selection process (polarity – isolation – separation or co-ordination – co-operation – integration)
5. to evaluate the Schengen phenomenon in relation to the potential decrease in the importance of national identities as well as to the expected increase in regional (including cross-border aspects) and transnational (European) identity

B. at the analytical level: the description of the current situation in the Central European context based on a relevant data base, which includes our own empirical (sociological) surveys conducted both inland and abroad

1. to confirm the change in the geopolitical position of the borderland – from a peripheral to an exposed area; it is possible to regard the borderland as inverse to the core areas situated in the inland
2. to analyze the role of particular participants in the development of the borderland, following the division into so-called “hard” and “soft” structures; special attention will be paid to forming their relations (networking)
3. to conduct opinion polls in order to find out the opinions of the public as well as of the representatives of selected institutions on the current developments in the borderland. This will be done through a series of our own empirical (sociological) surveys both in the Czech Republic and abroad with a focus on the public's and institutions' perception of the Schengen Area and on regional differences in this perception
4. to characterize the impacts of cross-border cooperation (at the regional level of international cooperation) seen as a means of convergence at Central European or European level - to distinguish material and non-material aspects of the cooperation and to evaluate its contribution to strengthening positively perceived differences and weakening negative inequalities
5. to specify similarities and differences in the development of the Czech borderland at the regional, Euroregional, microregional (SO ORP) and local levels (key studies)

C. application aspects: the study of administration, legislation, economic policies and social cohesion in relation to the borderland

1. to identify the roles of administrative levels (NUTS 2, NUTS 3), Euroregions, microregions and settlements (Eurotowns) in the development of the borderland with a special focus on knowledge and experience transfer (best practices)
2. to compare the ability of the borderland regions to compete both with each other and with the inland ones (competitive potential)
3. to evaluate the roles of administrative levels (including communal/local administration) in cross-border cooperation
4. to analyze the direct contribution – the use of European funds and programmes (chronologically: Phare CBC, Interreg and the aim of European Territorial Cooperation) as a means of strengthening cohesion in borderland regions