Cultural networks in cross-border regions and the national border effect – examples from three EU cross-border regions



cross-border regions, national border effect, cultural networks, EU, culture and community centres




Cross-border regions (CBRs) have been the subject of political science and spatial research in Europe for many years (Decoville and Durand 2021). A central research question is what effects national borders have on border regions. This involves examining whether national borders have a negative border effect on the neighbouring sub-regions of the various nation-states.

This presentation focusses on cross-border cultural interdependencies in European border regions. Cultural networks are recorded based on organisational networks cultural and community centres as well as interdependencies of cultural and community centres with the surrounding population in the three border regions Basque Country (France/Spain), Upper Rhine Region (Germany/France/Switzerland), and Flemish Region (Netherlands/Belgium). Our approach measures cultural networks across borders using a new innovative "extended network model" (EINM) (Bakry and Growe 2022). Results of the cross-border network analysis are presented in the first part of the presentation. In this part of the presentation, the influence of ethnic similarities on both sides of the national border on the development of cultural networks will become clear.

The national borders in the case studies are further conceptualised as potential physical and mental barriers. In order to identify the negative or positive effects (Sohn and Licheron 2018) of national borders on cross-border cultural networks, the national borderlines are reconfigured in different hypothetical geographical positions. In this part of the presentation, it becomes clear that the presence of a common language strongly influences (decreases) the impact of negative effects of national borders.


Bakry, Ahmed/Growe, Anna (2022). Spatial effect of ethnicity on cross-border regions. Comparative analysis for a cultural aspect based on territorial and network perspectives: the cases of the EU Basque and Upper Rhine border regions. European Planning Studies, 1–23.

Decoville, Antoine/Durand, Frédéric (2021). An empirical approach to cross-border spatial planning initiatives in Europe. Regional Studies 55 (8), 1417–1428.

Sohn, Christophe/Licheron, Julien (2018). The multiple effects of borders on metropolitan functions in Europe. Regional Studies 52 (11), 1512–1524.