The France Strategy of the Saarland
The France Strategy: Opportunities and obstacles from a local perspective
In the first decades of European integration, cross-border cooperation was a policy area that was primarily negotiated and implemented at national level. With the new structural and cohesion policies of the European Union and the dismantling of the (material) borders between the member states, cross-border cooperation shifted increasingly to the regional and local level.
With the France Strategy, the Saarland has launched an ambitious project which is an expression of these new role(s) and new self-image(s) of regional and local actors. On the one hand, the many years of cross-border experience of the French and German districts and municipalities are seen as a "breeding ground" (Tobias Hans in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 January 2019) for the France Strategy, on the other, they represent important links between the broad range of non-state and civil society actors whose support and participation is essential for the long-term success of the Strategy. However, the contributions of local and municipal authorities, their experiences and proposals for action with regard to cross-border cooperation have not yet been analysed in depth. Accordingly, the (often implicit) knowledge cannot contribute (sufficiently and appropriately) to the further coordination and implemenation of the France Strategy and/or further cross-border policies.
In a research project funded by the State Chancellery of the Saarland, we would like to address this gap of knowledge and gather experiences and perspectives of local muncipal actors through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, with the overarching aim of contributing to the further coordination and implementation of the France Strategy in particular, and other efforts of cross-border cooperation in general.