An ethical-humanist approach to cross-border cooperation


New borders are springing up. Existing ones are hardening. The Economist recently ran a story about the global border crisis under the headline 'Neighbour makes bad fences'. Against this background the project asks: Why is it so difficult to create joint institutional linkages in cross-border regions (CBR) around the world despite the implementation of ad hoc bodies and decades of cross-border cooperation (CBC)?  Why it seems that cross-border ties between friends and nearby communities become looser instead of stronger despite the increase of CBC? CBC-ETHOS aims to impact CBC by shifting the focus from an economic and political angle to consider the ethical-humanist dimension of CBC in CBRs since CBRs cannot be analysed solely as geopolitical, cultural, and economic sites. They are also ‘ethical spaces’ inhabited by people and are part and parcel of human activities. Precisely because they are ‘human’, borders must be structured and governed in an ethical manner. That is why it is normatively important to determine how ethical values such as trust, obligation, responsibility and solidarity on which social exchange is grounded are present in the language and action of policy makers and stakeholders operating with CBC policies. The outcome of this analysis will be an original, alternative CBC roadmap where inherent ethical questions in CBC are not further sidestepped.