No Longer on the Periphery: German-Polish Cross-Border Relations in a New Institutional Context

in German Politics and Society
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On 21 December 2007, the German-Polish border became a "Schengen" border. Passport controls and other limitations to the movement of people and goods were abolished, removing one more obstacle to European and, perhaps, German-Polish integration. Several years earlier, Poland introduced territorial and administrative changes that moved it closer institutionally to western European states. Forty-nine subnational administrative units were replaced by sixteen self-governing voivodships. This article explores the implications of this new institutional context for German-Polish border relations. It finds that, despite the expansion of the opportunity structure for greater German-Polish cross-border cooperation, interaction still tends to be among elites. The development of linkages at the societal level lags behind for several reasons, including lingering institutional impediments and cultural differences, but also the failings of political leadership.