Throughout history, cities and regions have been cornerstones of economic, social and cultural institution building and centres of communication and trade across borders of empires and nations. In a globalised world dominated by multi-level governance and declining economic and political significance of the nation-state, cities and regions are becoming ever more so important in building bridges across nations, supra-national unions, and even continents.
These challenges surpass the usual aspects of integration: it is not sufficient to reduce barriers for the mobility of labour, goods, services and capital, to create
a homogenous competitive environment, and a solid monetary system. What is needed in addition are more elements of a new regionalism, which is based on non-hierarchical relationships, on self-government, and on the creation of flexible alliances leading to interregional transnational cooperation. The development of a region is affected by its competitive and complementary relationships with other increasingly distant regions.
These relationships have to be embedded in an overall structure of relations which encompass the purely economic ones and have strong social, cultural, legal and political dimensions. The objective of the conference is to initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue about the future of a transnational world of urban and regional cooperation.