Cooperation in the Upper Rhine

Cross-border cooperation in the Upper Rhine region stretches further back in history as its borders suggest.

Map of the Upper Rhine area.
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The area of cooperation on the Upper Rhine extends northwards into the southern Palatinate.

Tri-national cooperation on the Upper Rhine began in its current form at the start of the 1960s with the founding in all three countries of associations dedicated to cross-border cooperation. The German-French-Swiss Upper Rhine Conference (ORK) volved in 1992 from the structures that had emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.

Polycentric metropolitan region

The tri-national Upper Rhine area includes the regions of Baden and Palatinate in Germany, the region of Alsace on the French side, as well as the five Northwestern Swiss cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Land, Aargau, Solothurn and Jura. The Tri-national Metropolitan Upper Rhine (TMO) was founded in 2010 to pool the forces of this region with its network of urban concentration points.

Today, many issues are coordinated on a tri-national basis in the Upper Rhine region. The focus here is mainly on transport and planning, education, energy and Environment, health, the economy and culture. Numerous projects have been implemented in these and other areas over the last twenty years with the help of the Upper Rhine INTERREG programme. Collaboration between the Upper Rhine universities in the form of the joint European Campus may serve as an example.

The Northwest Switzerland Intergovernmental Conference (NWRK) approved a joint strategy on cooperation on the Upper Rhine, governed by the following basic principles, for the period 2014-2018:

  • The cantons make an active contribution to the further development of the Upper Rhine as an attractive and competitive location for living and business along with the employment market with international appeal as well as excellent internal and external accessibility;
  • The cantons are committed to a harmonious polycentric development of the Upper Rhine region, agree on the development of transport, urban settlement and landscape usage and develop their environmental and energy policies in the interest of a long-term cross-border living and business environment that is attractive and sustainable;
  • The cantons promote the development of the diverse linguistic and cultural landscapes of the Upper Rhine as an important contribution to the common identity and international appeal of the region. They support solutions that mitigate social and demographic change;
  • The cantons maintain and deepen relations with their neighbours in the Upper Rhine region and aim to achieve efficient steering and coherent communication. The cantons participate selectively in European networks and support programmes according to the principles of solidarity and proximity to citizens;