Context and issues

The Metrolux team at the Centre for Population, Poverty and Public Policy Studies (CEPS/INSTEAD) in Luxembourg studies the mechanisms of regional integration of cross-border metropolitan centres, both in economic and political terms.

The research carried out examines (1) the modalities of the economic development of these cross-border regions within the global system, (2) the cooperation and modes of governments implemented by various public and private actors in order to manage spatial development and coordinate their actions and (3) the role and importance of national borders within these processes.

This research framework is based on the counterpositioning of two distinct yet interrelated phenomena. On the one hand, the concentration of people, wealth and power in metropolitan centres is accompanied by a networking of these "global cities" to harness flows of labour, capital and information. Faced with the growth in international trade and the advent of a flexible regime of accumulation, the metropolitan areas offer advantageous points of anchorage to networks of business and communication and constitute the new centres of development of the information economy which are now organised in archipelago form. This spatial reshaping of the economy and society is accompanied by a redefinition of the traditional prerogatives of states vis-à-vis urban centres and of a network of cities as territorial actors.

On the other hand, the reinforcement of mechanisms of regional integration, such as the European Union, has led to an increase in the permeability of national borders in certain parts of the world. This relative openness of borders is part of a wider process of territorial recomposition at different levels, in accordance with which the region is seen as an essential level. Such an expansion of cross-border relations can be manifested in an intensification of economic exchanges between cross-border regions, the development of institutional cooperation or recompositions in terms of culture or identity.

Positioned at the intersection of the two dynamics discussed above, the cross-border metropolitan regions appear as emblems, as yet unrecognised, of globalisation. This fact is at the root of a scientific niche which the Metrolux research team is dedicated to exploiting. At the level of international research, this scientific approach has the advantage of providing a clear and innovative position to the Metrolux team within the huge field of the study of borders and cross-border regions. In relation to social issues, the cross-border metropolitan factor is of strategic interest to the future development of Luxembourg and the Greater Region (Luxembourg, France, Germany, and Belgium), as well as for other cross-border metropolitan regions in Europe.

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