Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /data/web/virtuals/37677/virtual/www/subdom/exborealux/wp-content/themes/exborea/functions.php on line 71
Border Regions • Cross-Border Cooperation on the EU's Eastern Border

Border Regions

Karelia, Finnland-Russia Border

Karelia is located in the north-east border region of the European Union, bordering on the Gulf of Bothnia in the west and White Sea in the east. Finland and Russia share about 700 km of border in this area. Karelia covers 263,667 square kilometres, of which 180,500 square kilometres is on the Russian side.

The regions on the Finnish eastern border facing the Russian Republic of Karelia have traditionally been among the most peripheral and marginalised in the country. After the fall of the Soviet Union the regional-level actors on the Finnish side of the border recognised the opportunities which were opening for cooperation across the border. Despite the huge socio-economic differences between the Finnish regions and the Republic of Karelia, common interests were identified and promoted, largely through EU funding.

Norway-Russia Border

Located in one of the least populated parts of Europe, the Norwegian-Russian borderlands are still among the most densely populated areas in the whole circumpolar Arctic. A total population of about 50,000 lives in the immediate vicinity of the border, about 10,000 people in the Norwegian municipality of Sør-Varanger and about 40,000 in the Russian municipality of Pechenga. These local populations, less than 50 kilometres apart, are centrepieces in Norwegian-Russian cross-border cooperation.

The sea and maritime matters have always constituted a key part of relations between Norway and Russia, both of them major coastal states in the High North, and to some extent the situation along the land border has mirrored the situation at sea. Fisheries, naval affairs, and ultimately, offshore energy developments have set much of the agenda, both in Soviet days and since.

 

Russia-Lithuania Border

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the “iron curtain” in the early 1990s, Kaliningrad Oblast became a Russian exclave in Europe, cut off from the rest of Russia by newly independent countries to its east. Kaliningrad oblast as a relatively small area surrounded by two EU states (Poland and Lithuania).

The unique situation of Kaliningrad requires a flexible approach to problem-solving rarely encountered in the practice of other Russian regions. An early instance of this approach was the decision in the 1990s to allow visa-free travel to Poland and Lithuania for Kaliningrad residents and to Kaliningrad Oblast for Poles and Lithuanians. Then, in preparation for the accession of Lithuania to the EU in 2004, the Facilitated Transit Document and the Facilitated Rail Transit Document were introduced, allowing Russian citizens to travel from Kaliningrad to other Russian regions and back by land across Lithuanian territory without a visa.

Poland-Russia Border

The area along the Polish-Russian border lies within three administrative regions. On the Polish side it includes two regions: Pomerania (with just two kilometres of the land border on the Vistula Spit and part of the maritime border) and Warmia-Masuria (208 kilometres of the land border and part of the maritime border in the Vistula Lagoon). On the Russian side it includes the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. The overall area of this cross-border region is 39,336 square kilometres.

Cross-border cooperation was made possible only after 1990 when Poland completed its first self-government reform, which resulted in the creation of local government bodies (communes). Another major reform in 2000 established self-governing authorities on a regional level (districts and regions). Apart from cooperation activities on the governmental or regional level, most cross-border activities are implemented by local communities and self-government authorities.

Hungarian and Slovak External Borders

On the east the external border of the EU stretches 97.9 kilometres on the Slovak-Ukrainian border and 134.6 kilometres on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. The region encompasses the Košice and Prešov regions in Slovakia, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén counties in Hungary and the Zakarpatska region in Ukraine.

Cooperation at the external border regions of Hungary and Slovakia has been effected by turbulent historical and political development. During various eras Central and Eastern European countries were regions within empires, satellites of great powers, republics inside a federation or union or independent nation-states, always facing continual political volatility. This resulted in perpetual re-drawing of state borders – generally in ethnically mixed populations in border regions. The major regime changes in the last decade of the 20th century resulted in some of the largest transformations of Europe’s border in more than 50 years, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the split of Czechoslovakia.

Ukraine-EU borders

The Ukraine-EU border area is about 100,000 square kilometers of land area and of 10 million inhabitants who live here. The borders are very complex and unique in geographical, historical and political terms. First, most of them are located in an area of Europe that is considered by many to be the geographical center of the continent. One of these regions, Zakarpattya, is the only region on the new eastern border of the EU that has borders with four EU states.

The location of these territories has always given them some advantages in terms of the development of a variety of forms of cross-border communication (such as trade, technical and technological
exchange, and cultural cooperation). These border regions have a very complicated geopolitical history. Additionally, whatever the period and whatever the state to which they belonged, these lands have always been peripheral, least-developed areas characterized by inefficient, subsistence farming, under-developed industry and infrastructure, excessive exploitation of natural resources (particularly over-harvesting of forests), low investment, high overall levels of poverty, high inter-regional migration of people, and high rates of
unemployment.

Moldova-EU Border

The Romania-Ukraine-Republic of Moldova CBC area covers 112,554 square kilometres, and the length of its combined border with the EU is 1,333 kilometres, including 684 kilometres of Romanian-Moldovan border, which is entirely a river border. There are approximately 10 million inhabitants in the CBC area and the average population density is 91.3 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Cross-border cooperation between the EU and Moldova is based on the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) CBC Strategy 2007-2013.

In accordance with this document, cross-border cooperation with the EU covers the entire territory of Moldova and is part of the CBC programme area Romania-Ukraine-Republic of Moldova, which includes six counties in Romania (Suceava, Botosani, Iasi, Vaslui, Galati and Tulcea); the oblasts of Odessa and Chernivtsi in Ukraine; and the entire territory of Moldova, covering 33,851 square kilometres with a population of 3.6 million.