Territorial observation along Germany's borders and European perspectives

July 2018

Territorial observation along Germany's borders and European perspectives

The observation of cross-border territories, which is now recognised as a priority by European countries, is moving towards overall coordination. The MORO project launched in Germany has accelerated this progress.

The project "Territorial observation in Germany and neighbouring regions" was launched in 2015 by the BBSR/BBR,1 as part of the German MORO programme on "Pilot projects in spatial planning". Its objective is to lay the foundations for border region observation along Germany's borders. The project was wound up at a conference of experts in Berlin on 9-10 November 2017. While initiatives to harmonise data on border territories had previously been implemented locally, harmonisation at German federal level was more difficult, which led to the launch of this MORO project.

Through the study of seven model regions along Germany's borders,2 the aim was to identify indicators designed to monitor living conditions in these regions, and to formulate recommendations regarding actions to be implemented. All of Germany's borders were included apart from that with the Czech Republic. The final report, which was published in November 2017, sets forth the observation carried out by and on the model regions, and discusses all of the topics studied with respect to the country as a whole, this being complemented by a more detailed approach that draws on each of the model regions and their specific issues (see the report on the Greater Region).

The report concludes that the joint development of regional strategies alone justifies the improvement of their system of cross-border territorial observation. It recommends the optimisation of cooperation between statistical authorities on either side of the border and the design of innovative initiatives in this domain. More info (reports in German and other languages)

Beyond this MORO project, cross-border observation has become a central issue in Europe:

  • At French national level with the relaunch of the Cross-Border Strategic Committee (CSC) by the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET) and the MOT in September 2018:
    Following on from the European seminar on the observation of cross-border territories initiated by the MOT and the French Network of Urban Planning Agencies (FNAU) in December 2012, which highlighted the need to coordinate systems for the statistical observation of border territories, two additional bodies were set up under the aegis of the CGET and the MOT: the Cross-Border Strategic Committee (CSC) and the Technical Working Group (TWG). A fresh meeting of the CSC will take place in Paris on 18 September. The day before, the MOT and the UMS RIATE (the Interdisciplinary Network on Territorial Development in Europe) will hold a seminar entitled "Territorial observation and assisting decision-making in cross-border regions". More info [FR]
  • At the Franco-German level with the publication of the Wasermann Report,3 in the perspective of the forthcoming new Elysée Treaty:
    Presented on 18 May 2018, it proposes the creation of a "cross-border observatory using 'cross-border open data'"(p.15). This binational position was endorsed by the Franco-German parliamentary working group, which on 17 May published two joint positions on Franco-German cross-border cooperation: "Deepening cross-border cooperation between France and Germany" and "Implementing projects of cross-border benefit: the 'border regions package'". More info [FR]
  • At European level with the pilot project "Border region data collection", funded by DG REGIO:
    The realisation of the need for better coordination of cross-border observation systems was translated into concrete form with the pilot project "Border region data collection" initiated by DG REGIO and Eurostat and implemented by the statistical institutes of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Slovenia, Italy, Germany and France, which began in July 2017 and ends in July 2018. This project is aimed at increasing the availability of statistical and geospatial data on cross-border flows and thus at promoting cross-border observation.

1 Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development) / Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung (Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning), Germany.
2 Schleswig-Holstein/Syddanmark/Sjaelland; the PRO EUROPA VIADRINA Euroregion; the International Lake Constance Region; the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region; the Greater Region; the Charlemagne Border Region; and the Germany/Netherlands Euregios.
3 Sylvain Waserman, "Transfrontalier franco-allemand : 6 propositions pour innover au cœur de l'Europe" ("Franco-German cross-border cooperation: six proposals to innovate in the heart of Europe"), La Documentation Française.

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