Transformation process in Lusatia Region: How can cross-border cooperation between Brandenburg and Saxony succeed?

With its expertise on transformation processes in Lusatia Region, the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) once again advised the Committee for Regional Development in the Saxon State Parliament. The 12th session of the committee dealt with the question of how cross-border cooperation between Saxony and Brandenburg can succeed in the phase-out of lignite mining. Prof. Dr. Robert Knippschild and Dr. Sebastian Heer from the IOER were invited as experts.

The phase-out of lignite and the associated transformation process pose immense challenges for Lusatia Region. One of these difficulties results from the fact that the region spans two federal states - Brandenburg and Saxony.
In their expert statement to the Committee for Regional Development in the Saxon State Parliament, Professor Robert Knippschild and Dr. Sebastian Heer from the IOER presented various scenarios of what cross-border cooperation could look like in the future. They began by explaining the framework conditions in the two federal states. They are characterised by a large number of actors with very different interests. The individual sub-regions of Lusatia also differ considerably in spatial terms. Nevertheless, according to the scientists, cross-border cooperation is important for the success of the transformation process. "In order to take up and link the potentials that exist in the region, strategic and not just project-related cooperation between the federal states is indispensable," explains Robert Knippschild from the IOER, who is leading the research project "Scientific support of the transformation process in Lusatia Region". His colleague Sebastian Heer adds: "Such cross-border cooperation would aim to avoid competition or duplicate structures between the Saxon and Brandenburg parts of Lusatia or to meet cross-state requirements - for example in infrastructure or water management. This is a precondition for the appropriate use of funding and sustainable regional development."

In their statement to the Members of Parliament, the two scientists made clear what such cooperation could look like. They recommended thinking in scenarios and presented three possible variants for cooperation. They stressed that it is important to use the existing structures and to coordinate them with each other instead of creating additional structures.

Handout on coordinated regional development
As a follow-up to the meeting, a consultation paper will be published soon, which will elaborate in detail on the scenarios and functional premises presented in the Saxon State Parliament. The project “Scientific support of the transformation process in Lusatia Region” of the IOER has been dealing intensively with the topic of cross-border cooperation of both federal states and the design of corresponding governance structures for quite some time. As early as March 2020, the project team had published recommendations for the establishment of a cross-state governance architecture that would enable the coordinated regional development of Lusatia. Notwithstanding the structural decisions taken in Lusatia Region in the recent past, the paper sets out the overarching requirements and motives for cross-border cooperation, which were also referred to in the committee meeting. The document is published on the project's website (document language: German):

Heer, Sebastian/Knippschild, Robert
"Governance-Struktur für eine abgestimmte Regionalentwicklung der Lausitz. Wie lassen sich die Schlüsselakteure der Lausitz strukturell in die strategische Koordination des Transformationsprozesses einbinden?"
Praxisorientierte Handreichung 4, veröffentlicht am 20. August 2020 [18. März 2020]

Contact at the IOER/IZS
Prof. Dr. Robert Knippschild,
Dr. Sebastian Heer,

Further information

In the project “Scientific support of the transformation process in Lusatia Region”, the IOER, represented by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Transformative Urban Regeneration (IZS) in Görlitz, is investigating the challenges and potentials of transformation process for the future of the region. In the process, proposals for the organisation of a successful transformation are being developed on a scientific basis. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) until September 2021.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.