This book brings together the written contributions following the colloquium “Cross-border cooperation in the Greater Region: state of play” organised by the Franco-German Law Centre of Saarland University on 11 October 2013, in cooperation with the François Gény Institute of the University of Lorraine, with the decisive support of the Franco-German University. These proceedings are offered in a full bilingual version. They bring together seventeen contributions covering many aspects of cross-border cooperation.

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Text of the foreword:

This book brings together the written contributions following the colloquium “Cross-border cooperation in the Greater Region: state of play” organised by the Franco-German Law Centre in Saarbrücken on 11 October 2013, in cooperation with the François Gény Institute of the University of Lorraine. We would like to thank Professor Olivier Cachard, the then deputy director of the Institut Gény, and the many colleagues from the University of Lorraine, who participated enthusiastically in this project.

The delay in publishing these proceedings may seem long. There are two reasons for this delay.

Firstly, and this is a great source of pride for us, these proceedings are offered in a full bilingual version. Each article submitted by the contributors, whether in French or in German, has been translated by the team of the Chair of French Public Law at Saarland University: Audrey Eugénie Schlegel, Lyn Paula Fischer and Cedric Schemien. Our thanks go to Marlies Weber for her careful proofreading. All the French versions are presented in the first part of this book. The German versions are included in the second part.

The second reason is that the Chair was responsible for the entire editorial work. The publication of these proceedings is in fact ensured within the framework of Editions juridiques franco-allemandes, a print-on-demand service allowing the CJFA to publish its work without being subject to the financial and legal constraints of traditional publishing. This process, which has already enabled us to publish manuals and conference proceedings, also allows us to distribute scientific works produced by or under the auspices of the CJFA free of charge on the websites of Bijus ( and the Revue générale du droit ( The technical difficulties encountered in the work of collecting, monitoring and formatting these proceedings teach us how difficult the job of editor is. It is all the more difficult when everything, from punctuation marks to citation formats, must be adapted to the language used. It is not the least of our satisfactions to have met this challenge.

Some written contributions that were perfectly up to date at the time of the conference no longer accurately reflect the current state of the law.

The organisation of the colloquium and the publication of these proceedings were made possible by the financial support of the Franco-German University and the material assistance of the University of the Greater Region. The Bar Association of Metz and the Saarland Ministry for Finance and Europe also provided valuable financial support. Special mention must be made of the support of Mrs. Nathalie Griesbeck, Member of Parliament, who, in addition to her personal contribution, assured us of the financial support of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

The programme of this conference can be found on the dedicated website It is also reproduced at the end of this foreword.

It should be noted that a number of speeches, notably those of Roland Theis and Nathalie Griesbeck, have retained their oral character. As regards the transition from oral to written form, we did not consider it useful to transcribe the entire debate. Thus the round table organised at the end of the day was not proposed in writing.

Cross-border cooperation is a major topic of study in both private and public law. Saarbrücken’s privileged position makes it an ideal vantage point for observing cooperation processes between Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. But cross-border cooperation offers an entry point that can be used for comparative study in a more general way and even from a purely national perspective. To take advantage of a rather easy play on words, we could say that cross-border cooperation questions the borders of each national law, putting its limits to the test. The theme of the border, discussed by Stephan Toscani[1] and Hughes Rabault[2], teaches us that it can be a place of exchange as well as of conflict.

This is true of the sources (Jérôme Germain) as well as the structures (Jochen Sohnle; Gilbert Schuh) of cross-border cooperation, which are developed in the light of the limits identified in each law as needs are expressed. Work at the local level (Roland Theis) is the condition for identifying these limits and bringing them up to the national and federal level so that new international treaties or administrative agreements can facilitate cooperation.

The determination of a theme as vast and ambitious as that of this conference necessarily leads to some approximations. The term “cross-border” is in fact subject to approximation because of the extremely broad nature of the concept. Anything that crosses a border can be considered cross-border.

It is thus necessary to distinguish between what, in the cross-border context, concerns two or more States regardless of geography, and what specifically concerns the border situation. In other words, it is necessary to distinguish between what concerns all borders and what is of specific interest to the Greater Region.

Without respecting the order of the oral interventions, we have brought together, after the introductory remarks and the presentation of the sources and structures of cross-border cooperation, the interventions dealing with the general problems of cross-border cooperation. The six contributions gathered within these general issues concern matrimonial regimes (Véronique David-Balestriero), judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters (Paul Klötgen), cooperation between companies (Francine Mansuy), taxation (Hugues Rabault), public participation in environmental matters (Annette Guckelberger) and cooperation in security matters (Thierry Thomas).

The fourth and final part of the book offers seven contributions on cooperation in the Greater Region through some of its emblematic achievements. Among the institutions, the Interregional Parliamentary Council (Roland Theis), the SaarMoselle Eurodistrict (Gilbert Schuh) and the Border Task Force (Kerstin Geginat) are brought together here. It should be noted that the Open House of Services for Germany (Mosa) did not yet exist. The establishment of commercial companies was also studied from a comparative law perspective (Liliane Nau), before health cooperation in the Greater Region was discussed in two additional contributions (Olivier Renaudie and Valérie Scheffzek). Only one case study was proposed: that of the participation of the Communauté d’Agglomération Sarreguemines Confluences in the Projektgesellschaft Thermalbad Rilchingen mbH, the thermal baths of the Saar (Roland Roth).

This presentation of the contributions in four distinct parts thus answers a particular logic. Another logic would have been possible, distinguishing cross-border in the broad sense and border studies in the strict sense.

We have chosen, within the framework of this conference, to place our work under the banner of “cross-border”, by habit and because the term is familiar. We have also carried out an “inventory”, which implies the broadest and therefore most exhaustive approach possible.

But to speak of cross-border in relation to the Grande Région, or any other specific border region, ignores the specificity of a number of legal rules that apply only in border areas. It would therefore be more accurate in some cases to speak of “border” law (Grenznachbarliches Recht) rather than “cross-border” law (Grenzüberschreitendes Recht).

What is “cross-border” is that which “crosses the border”. The term is similar to the famous definition of “transnational” law given by Professor Jessup[3]. Transnational would be distinguished from public international law when the effects of an act or norm would be felt directly by an addressee in the territory of another State, and not by a sovereign State.

Cross-border is even broader than transnational because it includes both the international and the transnational due to its ductility and imprecision.

Many branches of law are thus involved in ‘cross-border’ and do not specifically concern public international law. This is primarily private international law, which regulates conflicts of law in space, e.g. marriage between persons of different nationalities, international adoption, the activities of multinational companies, etc.

But what is missing from this very broad meaning traditionally given to the term “cross-border” is an element that is essential for our purposes: the idea of proximity.

The situation of the Grande Région, the SaarMoselle Eurodistrict or the Pamina Eurodistrict is not only due to the will to work together despite the presence of a border. What makes these institutions interesting is the continuity or at least the territorial proximity that they imply.

Some situations are not only cross-border: they are more specifically “border”, they are established between administrations, individuals, companies located on different but neighbouring national territories.

Our hypothesis is that border law can be constituted, if not as an autonomous branch of law, at least as a specific object of study.

Public law plays a very special role in border law.

As we have said, private international law regulates conflicts of law in space, but proximity plays no role in the solution of a dispute. The legal regime of a mixed marriage or divorce will be the same whether the spouses live in Paris and Berlin or in Sarreguemines and Saarlouis.

The rules of cross-border trade will be the same regardless of the distance of the seat or establishment of the companies.

Public law, on the other hand, is not indifferent to the territorial proximity on either side of the border.

For example, international environmental law rules apply specifically to border situations[4].

The Karlsruhe Agreement on cross-border cooperation between local authorities and local public bodies of 23 January 1996 defines its territorial scope by reference to French (Alsace region, Franche-Comté region, Lorraine region and Rhône-Alpes region), German (Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland) and Swiss local authorities located on a border (Luxembourg being considered entirely as a border).

This is also the case for a number of Community rules, in particular the obligation to carry out Community advertising when a contract, even a small one, has a “definite cross-border interest” [5].

Tax treaties provide for border situations and give them legal effect. The Franco-German double taxation convention refers to a geographical area within 20 kilometres of the border [6].

The border character has a meaning in terms of public services: collection and treatment of waste (partnership between the EntsorgungsVerband Saar and the Sydeme), water, public transport (the Sarreguemines – Saarbrücken tramway), creation of leisure activities (the Saar thermal baths, the Bliesbruck archaeological park), care by the emergency services and hospitalisation (agreement between the CHIC Unisanté of Forbach and the SHG Kliniken Völklingen).

The colloquium of 11 October 2013 and the resulting proceedings should therefore only be considered as a first step. They are an opportunity to build a network and to identify fruitful issues.

One of the contemporary developments of the University is the increasing demand, imposed by the political power, to work in a way that is directly useful to society. This constraint of utility has deleterious effects on the quality of research and even teaching, which can no longer rise above the immediate constraints of a social utility confused with a derisory concern for profitability and efficiency.

Fortunately, the topic of border law effortlessly meets the objective of direct social benefit. The raw material for reflection is concrete. The results of any reflection are also eminently concrete. However, the study of border law offers the lawyer the opportunity to bring different branches of law together in innovative and intellectually fruitful research perspectives.

These proceedings are the best proof of this.


Saarbrücken, 13 July 2016

[1] Stephan Toscani (represented by Dr. Martin Niedermeyer), “Address by the Minister for European Affairs”.

[2] Huges Rabault, “The border as a source of disputes in tax law: some effects of deterritorialisation in tax matters”.

[3] Philip C. JESSUP, Transnational Law, Storrs lectures on jurisprudence / Yale Law School, Yale University Press, 1956.

[4] On the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions, see Annette Guckelberger, “Cross-border public participation” in this volume.

[5] CJEU, 15 May 2008, SECAP SpA, C-147/06, cons. 31; CJEU, 21 July 2005, Coname, C-231/03, cons. 20.

[6] Tax Convention of 21 July 1959, Article 13 5. b): “The frontier zone of each Contracting State shall comprise the municipalities all or part of whose territory is situated at a distance from the frontier not exceeding 20 kilometres”.