Spotlight on Borders

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 01:00 - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 00:59

Bettina Petersohn and Nicola McEwen

The Anglo-Scottish union never eradicated the significance of the border. The border demarcated a boundary between two national communities, two legal jurisdictions and two political societies, though common institutions and solidarities developed alongside this distinctiveness. Devolution has amplified the differences between the legal and political jurisdictions north and south of the border – a process that would be enhanced by further devolution. Independence would establish an international border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

This ‘Spotlight on Borders’ series of briefing papers will explore the border effects of constitutional change. We will draw on comparative case studies to highlight the effect of borders on mobility, focusing on people, trade and infrastructure. We will examine whether borders create barriers or opportunities, and how governments, business and communities cooperate across borders.

  • People: What effect does the border have on the movement of people? How do people cross the border and for what purpose? Does the border form an obstacle or an opportunity for people as citizens and workers on either side?
  • Trade: How are business operations and trade affected by the border? Are there differences for businesses on the two sides of the border? Does the border form a barrier to trade or a business opportunity?
  • Infrastructure: What options exist to cross the border? Do (local) transportation networks cooperate and how? Are there barriers or opportunities for infrastructural cooperation across borders? How do governments engage in cross-border collaboration?

The degree to which the border can act as a barrier or an opportunity is affected by the decisions and commitment to cooperation between central, regional and local governments on both sides of the border. Are qualifications recognized on either side of the border? Do citizens working or travelling across jurisdictions have access to public services? In Europe, the directives and programmes of the European Union promote mobility across borders, but implementing EU directives within national jurisdictions can create new border barriers. Comparisons with different types of borders demonstrate that:

  • Internal borders within multi-level states can become as rigid as international borders, if governments allow barriers to mobility and trade to develop.
  • The effect of a border may be felt differently on either side, depending on their respective regional economies, resources and political communities.
  • With dedicated commitment, government intervention and intergovernmental cooperation can reduce the impact of border barriers, and allow citizens and business to capitalize on opportunities.

First paper of the Spotlight on Borders series: Insights from the German-Swiss border