When the European Neighbourhood Policy was launched in 2007, it marked a change in the geographic size of the European area: for the first time, the EU recognized that it was involved with the territories on its borders, which go from Arctic Russia to Morocco (and even Mauritania in the eyes of the Union for the Mediterranean). The objective here is to analyze this major emerging region by comparing it to the other large regions in the world.
The CIST’s leading role in the EU programme European Neighbour Regions (ESPON) boosts its credibility on the now recognized theme of the great European region. CIST can mobilize scientists working on regional integrations in the world and Europe, on Europe’s eastern and Mediterranean neighbourhoods, and on the challenges of analyzing, representing and establishing a land use strategy for these vast territories. It can contribute to a better dialogue between disciplines that infrequently or rarely work together on this subject, i.e. economics (which has a long history of analyzing the question), political science, geography (oddly a recent newcomer to the subject), and also earth sciences on e.g. environmental issues (see the scientific federation led by the MISTRALS project on the Mediterranean, which would like to work more closely with social science and humanities).
This issue of regional integration is a good way to facilitate dialogue between researchers working on very far-removed fields and in sufficiently varied cultural contexts to be able to think of the “incommensurability” of the territories considered. This involves looking at the ways in which the issues arising from the progression of regional integrations in the world over recent decades are comparable in East Asia, North America, the Euro-Mediterranean, etc. (e.g. new North-South relationships and resistance to standards established in industrialized countries, territorial integration through transport and energy networks, etc.).