Dynamic Border Landscapes in Europe
A new round of discussions on European integration begins between rigid borderlines and vibrant border landscapes: On the one hand, the border between nation states is primarily interpreted as an administrative and restrictive boundary with new border fortifications within the context of global migration flows. On the other hand, the territorial borders are understood as economic spaces and habitats in order to encourage the convergence of cross-border city networks and regions, landscapes and cultural spaces at a political level. From an individual perspective, the networked society opposes this effort, virtually independently of national borders to a great extent, fluctuating between a retreat to the private sphere and a rebellious civil society reorganizing itself into urban and regional movements and units. Therefore, in addition to border issues impacting national frontier regions, the processes behind establishing new borders and dissolving existing ones epitomize urban and rural environments across all of Europe. Planning and design issues manifest within this field of tension for the Europe of the future in transnational everyday places, city districts and regions.
These border landscapes serve as the venues for negotiating and defining European urban development policies. Within the framework of a summer school, the universities open a critical debate regarding border spaces and topics related to future urban development in Europe. Up-and-coming planners and designers scrutinize prescribed interpretations of territorial lines, describe the dynamics of transition zones within cities and regions, and search for new perspectives on people-friendly development in Europe. The focus of the borderline city is shifting towards spatial phenomena and forms of cooperation along border landscapes. More than ever, the evolution and transformation of habitats, from the architecture to the region, needs to be mapped out in order to describe the dialectics and concurrence of dynamic developments contextualized on different scales. This is the only manner in which necessary actions of particular interest from a planning and design perspective can be introduced into the debate on the further development of European integration and the Leipzig Charter. For that reason, Summer School 2020 will be devoted to the places that are most impacted by border processes:
Isolated and borderless locations and districts
Cross-border urban spaces that galvanize inspiration and
innovation at the local level
Transborder urban spaces and landscapes confronted with conflicting
developments at the regional level
Interregional spaces for cooperation and city networks with
trend-setting urban development targets
Everyday processes behind establishing and dissolving borders
Social coexistence is not just structured based on national borders. The dissolution of spatial and temporal borders is steadily becoming more visible and palpable in European villages, cities and regions in particular. Greater flexibility and digitalization in commonplace activities such as work, consumption, leisure and mobility are leading to a growing disintegration of collective time structures, thus altering the rhythms of our cities. (cf. Pohl 2009) As a consequence of approximating institutional frameworks and technological advancement, the functional and infrastructural requirements for a city are changing. At the same time, the boundaries between the spheres of work and private life are becoming progressively blurred, which will have additional repercussions for the functional relationships in urban spaces and how they are organized in the future. The digitalization of work is creating greater physical independence from the place employment, making it necessary to renegotiate mobility and location issues. Flexible and borderless work is changing everyday life in the city. Spatial, temporal and functional change processes must not be considered separately but instead are rife with parallels and interdependencies.
The nation state as decision-maker
vs. the city as a driver of innovation
More and more municipal and city governments are stepping to the fore instead of nation states when debating migration, environmental and urban development policies. They are gaining in importance as constitutive and acting governmental and administrative entities at the European level. The sense of urgency posed by the political challenges facing urban authorities grapples with transformation and decision-making processes lasting several years at the European level. In some EU countries, for example, a growing isolationist policy is being promoted by political representatives at the national level. In contrast, calls for the ideals of an open, inclusive society can be heard, especially in densely populated urban areas, which are being implemented by means of local government policies. (e.g. solidarity cities) Cities such as Gdansk in Poland, Palermo and Naples in Italy are becoming pioneers, acting against their national governments. Cities are joining together to form city networks not only to address migration issues but also to define their own environmental and political goals. They counterbalance political decisions at the national level and present their own urban agendas alongside the “Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities” adopted in 2007 at the ministerial level of the participating countries. Thus, local politics overlap with national directives and increasingly demand more subsidiarity.
BORDER POLARITIES FUEL URBAN AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The transformation of borderlines shaped the fellowship of national territories before interregional spaces for cooperation along national borders were institutionalized by the integration process of the European Union. The 19th and 20th century in particular were marked by countries merging together as part of national movements throughout Europe. After the end of the Second World War, further multilateral coalitions followed suit, which constituted the start of European integration with its numerous institutions and continue to shape the process to this day. For example, the Schengen Agreement made it possible for people to cross internal borders without border checks, which greatly influenced the economic development of the border regions. This consolidation is not always perceived as attractive or as an asset for border cities. The notion of the “close stranger” lost its appeal not least as a result of the common eurozone. Nevertheless, these cities often benefited economically from border crossings (e.g., spending the last of a foreign currency while on vacation) and today are increasingly confronted with a fragmented and small-scale structural transformation.
INTERREGIONAL SPACES FOR COOPERATION DEFINE EUROPE
Europe is divided into nation states by borderlines. Its two-dimensional interpretation is no longer able to satisfy the diverse political and socio-economic developments. In the course of the European Union’s cohesion policy, joint regional development has not just been promoted to an increasing degree along borderlines for almost 30 years, with the volume of the funding being expanded constantly. The “European Regional Development Fund” (ERDF) and the INTERREG program, which is financed by that fund, are intended to overcome the divisive effect of borders while the characteristics of the individual regions continue to come into play. The objective of the funding program is to maintain the border solely as an administrative line and to establish the border region as a common living space, economic area and landscape (cf. Gabe 2015).
UNDERSTANDING AND SHAPING BORDER LANDSCAPES
Borders feature various modes of action that change the cities and regions on different scales. According to Benjamin Davy, operations involving dividing, separating and connecting define planning and design issues. Dividing refers to the division of a border and serves to organize inner worlds. The separating effect of borders determines the relation between what was separated and the surrounding environment, but can also be changed temporarily. Hermetic borderlines and ones that can scarcely be bridged can be opened and closed temporarily. For example, the opening of Germany’s external borders in 2015 in the aftermath of growing migration movements across Europe. Passport control points were reintroduced later on at the same border crossings in the Schengen zone. The effects and repercussions of these mechanisms vary considerably for the individuals. And last but not least, borders connect by virtue of their crossings and corridors. Spatial and temporal qualities can only be shaped in this manner. The concurrent nature of different modes of action at borders is extremely relevant for the borderline city.
Borders are not a matter of course but rather are subject to ongoing transformation, resulting from negotiation, deliberation and design. They are “produced” socially, “inscribed” into everyday space and “implemented” politically. Their lifespans and mechanisms have scarcely been investigated. The lingering effects of former border demarcations, for example, have only been the subject of research for a few years now and are summed up by the phenomenon of phantom borders. Interactions between different actors, everyday practices, and administrative institutions are described over prolonged periods of time.