Cross-border integrationThe concept of cross-border integration
The term "cross-border integration" has multiple definitions, particularly in the context of studies on European integration (Anderson and Wever 2003; De Boe, Grasland and Healy 1999; Hansen and Serin 2007; Sohn, Reitel and Walther 2009). For cross-border regions, the integration process is fundamentally based on the existence of interactions between areas separated by an international boundary. These interactions are not limited to the economic sphere, but also concern other flows or transactions (migration, political relations, cultural exchanges, etc).
The existence of interactions across a border does not necessarily mean that the territories converge. Some relationships can be highly asymmetric and can be fed by strong differentials. It is therefore necessary to complete an analysis of interactions taking into account the possible convergence of the territories concerned. The need or the desire of actors to cooperate is also to be taken into consideration, as cross-border relations are not necessarily based on shared motivations.
As a consequence, cross-border integration is considered in this study as a process of convergence between separate territories resulting from the intensification of the interaction between actors located in different geographical units.
This definition allows us to consider the two main dimensions of cross-border integration: first, this process refers to the existence of interactions between territories and is based on flow analysis and barrier effects; second, cross-border integration also refers to the convergence of territorial characteristics and is based on an analysis of homogeneity and discontinuities.