What contribution do town twinning schemes make to European integration?

Term Paper, 2020

14 Pages, Grade: 2,0



1 Introduction

2 Current State of Research

3 Central Definitions

4 Consideration of town twinning in theoretical approaches

5 The municipal level as a factor in the integration process

6 Town twinning in Europe and the CEMR

7 Development of town twinning

8 Conclusion



1 Introduction

"The current international system still focuses largely on the nation-state level and often does not recognize the independent role of cities, but only considers them "stakeholders." Increasingly, however, cities are acting alone or in associations as independent actors in international relations. This German government's guideline on international cooperation for sustainable urbanization "Partners in a World of Cities" illustrates that cities (municipalities) are becoming increasingly important. According to the CEMR database, there are approximately 38,000 town twinning arrangements within Europe. Despite the high quantitative weight and the resulting frequent contact with town twinning, the function of town twinning concerning European integration remained open within European research.

The present study is therefore intended to illuminate town twinning from the perspective of European integration.

The research question for the thesis is:

What contribution do town twinning schemes make to European integration?

This question deserves special attention against the background of the strengthening of municipalities in recent years. They are considered the necessary carriers of democratic freedoms and the EU's construction and the airlines and mediators of the European idea since a united Europe can only come into being if the population actively participates in the integration process and develops initiatives for the political unification of Europe.

It is noted that the work focuses on town twinning with municipalities abroad1 Domestic town twinning is therefore not taken into account.

The work is divided into several parts. In the first steps, the state of research is examined, and central concepts are clarified. In the next section, integration theories are applied to the twinning movement, and the municipal level is read as a factor in the integration process. Finally, a rough picture of the European town twinning and its historical development is given.

2 Current State of Research

As already mentioned in the introduction, town twinning is a field of research that is not often entered. Town twinning is often mentioned in connection with transnational and international relations. This topic is rarely a central focus of research. This is also illustrated by the fact that there is no exact number of town twinning projects worldwide. The political disinterest in the topic makes it difficult for research institutions to obtain the funds to collect data. Nor do the individual continents offer any figures for town twinning. This is most likely to be the case in the EU through the CEMR database.

The book by Thomas Grunert from 1981 can still be regarded as the standard work for town twinning. There he examines the German-French town twinning. Thomas Grunert is also the only author worth mentioning who tries to capture the influence of town twinning on European integration. It was not until 33 years later that work appeared that included town twinning as the sole focus of research. In it, Kai Pfundheller examines the possibility of town twinning as an alternative foreign policy for municipalities. Pfundheller also provides food for thought on the role of cities in Europe in his work. The two authors Hansjürgen Garstka (1972) and Beate Wagner (1995), should also be mentioned. Like Grunert, Garstka examined German-French city partnerships. However, he did not discuss the town twinning in as much depth as Grunert. Ms. Wagner looks at the affiliations of municipalities according to their transnational contribution to international security. However, she also does not focus directly on the partnerships.

The literature for the integration theory part will be limited to the leading representatives of the various integration theories. C.J.Friedrich represents the neo-federalist approach, D. Mitrany, the functionalist approach, Ernst Haas is regarded as the founder of neo-functionalism. For systems theory, it is L. Lindberg and S. Scheingold.

The literature for the research field of town twinning is minimal. Therefore, many primary sources will be used in the present work. These include direct contact with the cities, information from the city archives, EU databases, data from associations of cities and municipalities, and the Europe Direct information network.

3 Central Definitions

Town twinning is defined differently in the literature, by researchers, and by municipal associations. One definition describes town twinning as "lasting relations between two local authorities on a friendly and cooperative basis that is open to all social groups" (Wagner 1995: 18). Garstka, on the other hand, describes it as "a consolidated form of international relations between municipalities" (Garstka 1972: 57).

For the present work, the definition of the CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions) is used. It defines town twinning as "a formal, temporal and factual partnership, not limited in time and subject matter, based on a twinning contract" (www.rgre.de). However, this definition will not suffice for the present study. It will, therefore, be expanded to include further criteria. Firstly, two partners (municipalities) must be involved to distinguish town twinning from ring twinning. A ring partnership is a cooperation based on a partnership agreement with at least three different local authorities. (Pfundheller, 2014). Secondly, the partners must have equal rights about decisions on town twinning. As a third criterion, town twinning must be distinguished from town sponsorships. Therefore, based on Wagner, the third criterion is "openness to all social groups" (Pfundheller 2014). The focus of city sponsorships' activities is directed solely at the national minority in foreign countries, who have the same nationality as the people in the sponsoring city. (Pfundheller 2014) In town twinning, the exchange is open and desired by all social groups.

Town twinning is definitively defined as follows. This work is also understood as such: A town twinning is a formal, temporal, and factual unlimited partnership between two equal partners, based on a partnership contract, which is open to all social groups.

Furthermore, some researchers suggest differentiation of the collective term "town twinning,"2 Since town twinning is only understood as cooperation between towns, in the meantime, however, the term "town twinning" has become accepted and established for the partnership of all local authorities. This is also advocated in the present study.

4 Consideration of town twinning in theoretical approaches

The 1981 analysis scheme is used to determine how the levels of action and impact of town twinning are considered in integration theories. Grunert's schema contains five factors:

(1) (local) elites
(2) Population
(3) Transactions
(4) Attitudes
(5) Organizations ("representing and transmitting "demand" and "support" of local authorities at the national, transnational, and supranational levels. (Grunert 1981)

A detailed presentation of integration theories or only one theory is not possible in this thesis because it would go beyond this paper's scope. Therefore, the following treatment of integration theory approaches will be further limited to considering and analyzing the five factors mentioned above.

First of all, it should be mentioned that the neo-federalist approach to integration is strongly oriented towards the theoretical considerations of the federalist course in the goal definition of regional integration (Friedrich 1969). The purpose of integration in the federalist approach is as follows: "Integration is seen as a process based on a consensus (population and elites) that ensures the functioning of the federal system through federal spirit, loyalty to the federation, and federal courtesy"(Friedrich 1969)

The main features of the federalization process are (1) the adaptation of sub-communities to the new community, (2) common goals, and (3) last but not least: common beliefs.

If we now compare the main features of the federalization process with the five factors of Grunert's analysis scheme, the following similarities can be identified:

(1) Population: The population level is included.
(2) (local) elites: Elites play an essential role in the federalization process.
(3) Attitudes: Shared convictions are fundamental.
(4) Transactions: The creation of shared goals through transactions.
(5) Organization: The adaptation of partial communities to the new society through organizations.

Proponents of the functionalist approach believe that the formation of a supranational community must be based on the population's consent and support since its implementation also depends on the extent to which it meets with acceptance within the population. (Mitrany 1966). For the construction of a supranational community, the following points must be considered. First, citizens must learn to cooperate. This is intended to ensure that the experience of the usefulness of transnational cooperation and the insights gained from it leads to the population absorbing this new learning process and developing it further in the future. The following variables turn people into a community: common loyalties, similar attitudes, united values, and expectations.

These mentioned variables are particularly important with town twinning. Through these factors, town twinning can gain the support of the population for community building and influence the political integration process.

The neo-functionalist approach places greater emphasis on institutional aspects of integration (Haas 2003). Integration is understood as a process in which actors orient themselves toward new central institutions, i.e., the core of the integration process is not primarily based on the development of a community but rather on institutionalized patterns through which national sovereignty is transferred to supranational authorities. It should be noted that political power and decision-making power are not primarily based on the loyalty of the affected population, but rather on the inevitable developments brought about by the primacy of economic prosperity in industrialized Western societies (Heumann 1979). Although the five factors cited above can influence town twinning, they are not among the necessary conditions for the neo-functionalism integration model. However, the neo-functionalist approach includes the following points that influence the integration process (Haas 1968):

(1) Interest groups
(2) Elite socialization
(3) Public opinion
(4) Identification
(5) Rising transaction rate

At this point, the considerations of the integration theory of Lindberg/Schindgold (1970), which are based on the system model of David Easton (Easton 1965), are essential. According to this, any factors influencing integration must be shown as input that guides the integration process. As a result, a reaction of the political system in the form of decisions becomes inevitable. Essential input functions in such a political system are "support" and "demands.

5 The municipal level as a factor in the integration process

This brief digression into the most critical integration theories based on town twinning was intended to explain that community building cannot take place without the consent of the population to integration, "but that the latter, on the contrary, participates in the integration process as an element of the basis of legitimacy and as a participatory component. (Grunert 1981)

Furthermore, it can be stated that all theoretical approaches must take into account aspects (population, (local) elites, attitudes, transactions, organizations) that can influence town twinning. The significance attributed to these aspects naturally varies from one theory to another. The particular phenomenon of town twinning is never directly addressed in the integration mentioned above theory approaches. This can be explained by the fact that these theoretical approaches are so highly generalized that such a multidimensional "integration variable" as that of the transnational relations of local authorities in the context of town twinning is not given any space there. Nevertheless, these theories provide evidence that town twinning, with its multidimensional levels, could represent a significant integration factor.

The current literature on integration theory gives little or no consideration to the municipal level. The reason for this is that until the 1970s, the prevailing opinion on supranational integration processes was that these processes are primarily determined by the actions of actors representing the national political level. Only more recent research results from the 1990s have shifted the focus of integration research more towards considering the factors of community building on the "subnational levels of aggregation of decision-making" (Grunert 1981).


1. City partnerships are mostly concluded with foreign partners anyway. Therefore, it is not necessary to consider domestic partnerships. One exception here is the west-east German city partnerships after reunification. However, this is a particular case and has been studied so intensively in scientific research that it would go beyond this study's scope.

2 For example, district partnerships, community partnerships, and town partnerships. (Fever 1995)

Excerpt out of 14 pages


What contribution do town twinning schemes make to European integration?
University of Potsdam
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ISBN (eBook)
European Union, Town Twinning, European Integration
Quote paper
Hüseyin Ugur Sagkal (Author), 2020, What contribution do town twinning schemes make to European integration?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/956793


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