Development challenges and solutions are not confined by borders, and as such cooperation is highly prized. Territorial cooperation across national borders with neighbouring territories has a long history in Europe and is widely pursued. The most familiar forms of territorial cooperation are the EU’s Territorial Cooperation Programmes, specifically Interreg. However, in practice territorial cooperation arrangements vary enormously in terms of their scope, scale, objectives, and operations.
In a rapidly changing policy environment, and against a background of difficult economic conditions, the role and expectations of territorial cooperation are continually challenged and changing. Numerous challenges and criticisms associated with territorial cooperation are made linked to complexity, value for money, impact and relevance in an increasingly integrated Europe. However, the fact remains that territorial cooperation continues to be widely pursued and could potentially fulfil more of a role in the future as new initiatives and instruments are applied and policymakers look to build synergies and complementarities across regions and sectors.
The paper provides an overview of the huge range and diversity of European territorial cooperation, the diverse border contexts of EoRPA countries, different forms, focus and funding of territorial cooperation across Europe. In the context of criticisms of the added value of territorial cooperation, and challenges to territorial cooperation, the interrelationships between initiatives, contributions and areas of added value are considered, e.g., in terms of policy synergies, innovation, network building and critical mass, and international profile.