EU Life Long Learning Programme logo

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Upper-Rhine (F, DE, CH)

Border Type?

  • “Old” european border between France and Germany
  • External border (France/Switzerland and Germany/Schwitzerland)
  • “Natural” border (Rhine)

Click to see larger version of the Upper-Rhine region

Which entities constitute the CB region?

Which subnational areas are covered?

  • In France: Region Alsace, which include 2 districts (departments) : Bas-Rhin und Haut-Rhin
  • In Germany: West part of the State (Land) Baden-Württemberg (9 districts/Landkreise) + South part of the State (Land) Rhineland-Palatinate ( 4 districts/Landkreise)
  • In Switzerland : 5 districts (Kantone) : Aargau, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Jura, Solothurn

What is the broader cross border perspective (the “Framework” of CB in your region)?

Upper-Rhine-Region (Upper-Rhine Conference)

How is the territory defined? Is it defined through a political agreement, an INTERREG programme or isn’t there a fixed definition of “the” border region?

Territory defined through an international Treaty since 1975. A long time: Territory divided in 2 INTERREG-Programmes. Since 2007, only one INTERREG-Programme for the whole Region

What is your range of activity?

  • Primarily : Whole Upper-Rhine-Region; 4 Eurodistricts
  • Secondarily: Projects in/with other Cross border Regions in Europe (Examples:France/Spain; Euregio Maas-Rhine;Germany/Polandetc.…)

Basic data of the border region:

  • Inhabitants : 5, 9 Mio Inhabitants
  • area of co-operation : 21 518 km²
  • important cities  and development hubs across the border:
  • in France:Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Colmar
  • in Germany : Freiburg, Karlsruhe
  • in Switzerland: Basel

Structure of economy

  • First Sector: 1, 2 % BIP
  • Second Sector : 35,2 % BIP
  • Third Sector: 63,6 % BIP

Specificities of the economy in the border region

  • Finance (UDS…)
  • Chemical und pharmaceutical Industry (Novartis, Roche…)
  • Nanotechnologies
  • Life Sciences (Cross Border Network BioValley)
  • Green Energy technology
  • Engine Construction / Automobile Industry (e.g. Mercedes-Benz in Rastatt and in Wörth)
  • NTIC

“standing” of the border region à considered as a week or strong region compared to the average of the national state?

Definitively a strong region ; Alsaceand Baden-Württemberg are among the healthiest und most dynamic regions in their country as well as the Basel Region which is one of the biggest economic agglomerations within Switzerland

Links between the jurisdictions…

  • Cross-Border Workers : nearly 90 000 in the whole region – the most of them are permuting fromFrance toGermany andSwitzerland or fromGermany toSwitzerland
  • Cross Border Student-exchanges very developed in the region (Universities-Network EUCOR ; bi or trinational degree programmes
  • Cross-Border Consumers : very developed near the border (Kehl byStrasbourg: 80 % Consumers are French)
  • Trade relationships very developed as well

General specialties of the border region (e.g. common language, identity feeling etc.)

  • 3 languages: French, German and Switzerland-German
  • Importance of dialects which provide broad passive comprehension of the neighbour language (especially for old generations)
  • Good understanding between populations and strong will of the administrations (and other actors) to cooperate
  • Awareness of the cultural and geographical proximity but difficult to speak from common identity yet

Governance  – institutionalisation of cross border co-operation within the region:

Degree of co-operation:

Short history of co-operation structures :
  • After WW2: town partnerships + a couple of big projects like Airport Bale/Mulhouse
  • Seventies: Institution-building (Upper-Rhine Conference 1975 as institutional framework based on an international agreement between France, Germany and Switzerland)
  • Nineties: Strong development of the cooperation and diversification of the involved actors through INTERREG-Programme  + Upper-Rhine-Assembly
  • Beginning of the 2000’ : Creation of 4 sub-areas of cooperation (eurodistricts)
  • End of the 2000’: Reform of the governance-model – Creation of the “Tri-national Metropolregion” = Better integration of non-administration-actors (actors of the economy, science and innovation and civil-society) in the governance structures + better coordination and  building of complementarities- between Upper-Rhine-level and Eurodistrict-level + better coordination of political/administration actors
Public or private predomination?
  • Definitively public predomination. Since 2011 : Opening to other actors (economy, science, civil society)
  • Upper-Rhine Conference with a lot of thematic committees (Culture, Environement, Economy, etc…) and a permanent secretariat : Framework of the cooperation between administrations
  • Upper-Rhine Assembly  (2 x Year) : 71 local/regional political representatives from F, D and CH
  • Cross-Border Convention (all 2 years) : Focus on one specific thematic (Culture) with all involved actors in this thematic (not only administration)
  • Trinationale Metropolregion (New Governance Modell with 4 thematic Networks : politic, economy, science, civil-society)
  • INTERREG-Authority
  • 4 Eurodistricts : local cooperation (e.g. Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau)
  • Euro-Institut (Training, Monitorting, Research and Advise/Consultation)
  • 4 INFOBEST (Info centre for cross-border workers)
  • ZEV (Centre for European Consumer Protection/Rights)
  • …and a lot of other Networks and actors…

Main Developers and drivers of cross border co-operation:

  • INTERREG-Authority
  • Upper-Rhine Conference and Tri-national Metropolregion
  • Euro-Institut

Cross border project funding  characteristics:

  • largely EU territorial co-operation funds
  • Tri-national fund of the Upper-Rhine Conference

Thematic focus:

  • Potential orientated cross border intervention approach in a lot of thematic areas

Mayor Projects in the cross border region:

  • Reform Governance Model (TMO-Process)
  • Neurex+
  • Biovalley
  • TripoCom (“Network for foreign language meets professional orientation”)
  • Cooperation between university and research institutes (Pillar Science of the Tri-national Metropolregion)
  • Upper Rhine Valley (Tourism)
  • language issues
  • fragmentation of cross-border structures (better coordination necessary)
  • no joint data available
  • Legal issues (different national law)
  • Future cross border co-operation

    • Reform Governance Modell – Better integration non-administration-actor