Research objectives and content
The concept of cross-border cooperation needs to be understood in all its complexity; cultural, linguistic, legal, economic, technical, administrative and geopolitical (European Commission, Europe 2000+ Co-operation for European territorial development, 1994, p. 133). Our research will specify and develop empirical and theoretical understanding of such complexities. It will do this through an examination of the impacts, extent and nature of cross-border cooperation and planning in (southern) Portugal and Spain: who share both the longest and the most underdeveloped internal border region in the EU. We will provide an assessment of the impacts of cooperation in particular with respect to the operation of local government, regional development and planning and the formats of local and regional identities. In addition to comprehensive surveys of relevant literature and archival and documentary work to chart the history, scale and formats of cross-border co-operation, in depth interviews with local, municipal, regional and national government politicians, officials and planners will be utilised in order to develop an original understanding of the achievements, and limits of cross-border cooperation. Beyond constituting an original approach to enriching understanding of transformations in Portugal and Spain, our research will be formulated in the context of and inform theoretical and political debates out shifting scales and forms of government, including the evolution of the EU and the impacts of its policies. Throughout, we will make comparisons with the wider context of a fast changing Europe containing diverse geographies, cultures and identities, not simply defined by "national-states".
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
Methodological, theoretical and comparative knowledge of Dr James D Sidaway will be disseminated at the host institution through six seminars on work in progress (at bi-monthly intervals). Training will be extended to postgraduate students, who in turn will "learn by doing" through conducting some of the interview research. A two-way learning process is envisaged. A wider exchange and collaboration will also be formally established between Birmingham and Sevilla. In respect of this, the School of Geography has agreed to fund (from its own resources) a follow-up visit to Birmingham by Dr Leandro del Moral in the three-month period following completion of the research in Sevilla. We expect that amongst the longer-term impacts will be an enduring intellectual linkage between the School of Geography at the University of Birmingham and the Departamento de Geografia Humana at the Universidad de Sevilla.
Links with industry / industrial relevance
The research teams that will act as hosts in Seville already have well-developed links with and contain members active in government agencies and local enterprises. During the course of the research, further linkages will be sought amongst enterprise operating across the Portugal-Spain frontier.