The EU attaches a lot of importance to transborder cooperation initiatives, with transboundary regions seen as a key policy instrument for supporting sustainable development along the EU frontier. As such, transboundary regions entail a lot more than just a policy tool. Policies may act as an important driver of regionalisation, however the regions itself result from longer historical processes and from top-down dynamics. Fit and interplays between these drivers and EU policies & governance frameworks have been greatly unexplored as yet, although they represent an important dimension of the success of EU neighbourhood policy going much beyond routinely performed impact studies. To address this gap in EU studies, this cross-fertilisation project explores various types and scales of environmental and nature recourse-based regionalisation on the interface with Belarus and North-West Russia (also partners countries - PCs), with a focus on institutions of multilevel governance & legacies in governance & socio-ecological systems. We recognise that PCs are the only EU neighbours on the East without any ambitions for EU integration and, therefore, EU policy instruments are weaker there than elsewhere along the border. At the same time, Baltic and Nordic cooperation are prioritised by the EU, as underpinned by a range of institutions created to foster them, including the Northern Dimension, and the EU Baltic Sea Region and Arctic strategies.
The following case studies will be explored to understand, what is the role of EU institutions (including ones endorsed by the EU) in regionalisation dynamics, and how EU objectives are visible and persistent:
- "Urban Arctic": most of population in Arctic NW RU and Northern Calotte dwells in cities, and regionalisation processes there are essentially urban-centric. An additional research focus will be on the transferability of policy, management and technology innovation (e.g. on the development of "smart cities") from Northern Calotte to Russian cities, and the role of EU-driven institutions.
- "Great Bielaveža Forest": this is an example of bioregionalisation that emerged building on a conservation agenda; an additional focus will be on the objectives of EU biodiversity governance.
- "Great Setomaa": this region located in EE and RU was historically inhabited by Seto people recognised as an ethnic minority in both countries; we also recognise that Russia has its own neighbourhood policy as well as the EU; its interference with EU-promoted mechanisms (also recognising that Russia negotiated a specific arrangement, which is different from a standard offer.
In its broader set of objectives, building on the outcomes of previously implemented EU projects, TERRA will:
- Consolidate research & praxis expertise in EU studies at PSU, other partner institutions, and broader PC academic and praxis communities;
- Promote the PSU group as a centre of excellence in EU studies;
- Create knowledge co-production opportunities for stakeholder groups in the region to encourage their involvement in curriculum development & research;
- Enhance the teaching & research portfolio of TERRA members by developing courses for MSc programs; develop & strengthen their networks.
The project activities will include 3 academia-praxis workshops, one for each case study. An International summer school will bring together the outcomes of the workshops (with a focus on the Arctic one) and integrate them to a curriculum that will be further used for teaching in partner HEIs and disseminated further (total 2 ECTS of contents). The e-learning platform will be created. It will be Moodle based, and it will include a password-free section, with all the open-access project materials published and project-relevant information posted, a section accessible with guest credentials, and a section with restrained access limited only to the students and faculty (http://do.pskgu.ru/
). The workshops will be accompanied by roundtable talks bringing together practitioners from PCs & the EU & NO. To ensure international dissemination, the workshops will aim at producing one peer-reviewed publication each.
Another deliverables will include a project brief targeting PC practitioners. All the project outputs will be made available as open educational resources from PSU e-learning system.