Research
25.03.2021

How can regional differences support skill formation in European cross-border areas?

In the Swiss Political Science Review, Lukas Graf looks at how such areas can be labs for Europeanisation in education.

European regions where national borders meet have developed into hubs of activity – economic, social, political, cultural and institutional. But the traditional political-administrative setup does not always match the needs of employers in cross-border industry clusters (CBICs). In a paper comparing the governance of skill formation in such areas, Hertie School Assistant Professor of Educational Governance Lukas Graf examines how education and training can develop in areas with dynamic cross-border exchange.  

In “Leveraging Regional Differences and Cross‐border Collective Institutions: The Case of Skill Formation and Employment in the Border Region of France, Germany, and Switzerland”, published in the Swiss Political Science Review in March 2021, Graf looks at such clusters, in particular the French‐German‐Swiss Upper Rhine region, where three distinct national governance models come together. Until now, Graf notes, much of the literature on skill formation governance has focused on national models.

This is particularly relevant for EU policymakers, as European cross-border regions are sometimes referred to as “labs” for the Europeanisation project. Cross-border mobility and exchange is elemental to the EU’s core value of free movement of goods and workers, and has recently been a topic of policy debate in the context of Brexit and the closing of national borders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The study includes, for example, an empirical analysis of the European Campus (EUCOR), an alliance of five universities based in the trinational Upper Rhine region (France, Germany, Switzerland).

Based on expert interviews with stakeholders, document analysis and limited secondary literature, Graf asks the question: “In which ways can actors benefit from their location in a CBIC and, related to this, how do the subnational parts of a CBIC relate to each other and to the respective national model of capitalism?“

Graf identifies two main strategies through which local actors in CBICs turn their peripheral location into an institutional advantage. On the one hand, through leveraging institutional advantages in the different parts of the region; on the other, through collective cross‐border goods in the form of jointly provided educational institutions. 

Find the paper here.

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More about Lukas Graf

  • Lukas Graf , Assistant Professor of Educational Governance