Does the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Mobilize the Municipal Level? City Twinning in Northern Europe
Over the last two decades city-twinning became quite popular in Northern Europe. This form of coining transborder communality took place particularly in the Nordic countries with their long-standing cooperative experience but included also the Baltic States and Russia. Twinning is viewed by many North European municipalities as an instrument available for both solving local problems and ensuring sustainable development. In some cases it has amounted to a kind of local foreign policy (paradiplomacy).This contribution aims at a critical examination of city twinning through four examples (Tornio–Haparanda, Narva–Ivangorod, Imatra–Svetogorsk, and Valga–Valka). It is argued that city twinning can bridge the ‘trust gaps’ that have traditionally existed at the boundaries of nation-states, and create shared spaces across national borders. In particular, the study seeks to explain whether the causal mechanism behind the examined phenomena is the agency of the cities themselves, or whether these phenomena merely reflect the wider policies of the states to which these cities belong. City twinning is also examined in light of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.