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Switzerland’s cross-border cooperation
Cooperation between border cantons and their neighbours abroad is regarded both as part of the regional and integration policy of the federal government and of bilateral relations with neighbouring countries. Cantons may conclude agreements under international law with neighbouring countries in order to resolve common problems and to implement projects on a cross-border basis. These powers to enter into agreements are subordinate to those of the federal government, and are restricted to those areas for which the cantons are responsible.
From the 1960s to the 1980s cross-border cooperation initially developed on the basis of classical inter-state agreements dealing with problems of relations between neighbours. Matters requiring attention included access to schools and hospitals, road building, fisheries and hunting. International treaties often led to the establishment of government commissions.
Beginning in 1980, local and regional cooperation began to take new forms, and new agencies began to appear. These were designed to promote the mutual exchange of information and closer coordination between the responsible authorities on both sides of the border.
The border cantons were anxious to involve the federal government in efforts to strengthen cross-border cooperation – particularly after the rejection of Switzerland’s accession to the European Economic Community in the referendum of 6 December 1992.
Examples of areas of cross-border cooperation include:
- environmental protection, shipping, fisheries, hydroelectric power
- road and rail traffic
- urban and rural development
- Civil Protection
- taxation of cross-border commuters.