Faced with “border effects” (increase in cross-border flows, competition between border territories and their stakeholders, economic and social interdependencies, and different institutional, political, legal and cultural systems on either side of the border, etc.) and the imbalances and opportunities they give rise to, players involved in cross-border cooperation need to develop common strategies and policies. These policies must promote the interoperability of legal systems and of services, and the rationalisation of resources and means through the pooling of knowledge and competencies.
This approach aims to optimise the services provided to citizens and leads to the implementation of cross-border cooperation projects. It comprises the joint definition of strategic priorities for the future of the cross-border territory (observation and planning), the cross-border establishment and management of public services and facilities, and sponsorship of “integrated” cooperation initiatives.
The implementation of cross-border projects requires an appropriate legal framework that makes it possible to overcome the differences in legal environment and to address the issues of responsibility for and financing of projects. In order to cooperate across national borders, local authorities and their groupings can draw on different national, European and international legal frameworks, which set out a whole range of tools for cooperation, thus constituting a veritable “cross-border toolbox”. Each cross-border project will have its own specific legal and operational framework based on the nature of the partners concerned, the sector concerned (for example the environment, transport, culture, etc.) and the type of action envisaged (creation of a network, joint investment, etc.).
The emergence of these projects requires first of all that local authorities have, at the very least, the competence to sign cooperation agreements with their neighbours. Moreover, these projects need to have a satisfactory legal framework to ensure legal security and stability, and to enable them to be enduring and properly managed.