The collapse of the communist states in Central and Eastern Europe had far-reaching consequences for the geopolitical situation of this region. Although the borders which were agreed on in Jalta and Potsdam after the Second World War have only been changed slightly, these borders gained huge importance in the course of the transformation process as a delimitation of zones with different speeds and intensities of transformation. In particular the Eastern border of Germany as the furthermost border of the European Union to the hopeful candidates Poland and the Czech Republic is becoming increasingly permeable in the course of the cross-border co-operation. In the context of regional policies within European Union, aspects with regard to the optimum distribution of subsidies are combined with questions of the economic competition between regions of different wealth. In connection with the equal objective of achieving a consistent economic development of the regions and the promotion of economic links between regions, horizontal cooperation concepts between the regions are to promote European integration. Initially conceived only for inner-community regions, the second stage of the INETEREG program extended the co-operation to include non-EU members. The challenges of the political changes in Eastern Europe were given consideration therein in that cross-border co-operation was established with Poland and the Czech Republics, and the funds to prepare the EU accession of these states (PHARE-program) were integrated into the INTEREG subsidisation. The key word "regionalism" is, however, now used to propagate regions with homogenous ethnic inhabitants, culture and history: The reinterpretation of the EU philosophy of European integration on a regional level quite often leads to demands for revisions of borders or the creation of new regional units. Poland's rejection of a centrally administrated economy also made encouraged the voices calling for a strengthening of the regions. On the one hand this was a question of the necessary reorganisation of the Wojewods, which had to be realigned to suit the regional sizes of the EU, but on the other hand of a political decentralisation of the decision-making powers of Warsaw out in the provinces. Although this process has not yet been completed, first conflicts within the ruling coalition with respect to the delegation of power are becoming apparent. This situation is made more difficult by the specific Silesian problem, which -although inhabited by very varied ethnic groups- has developed a regional identity. In the course of the discussion regarding a redrawing of the Wojewods, this movement must be taken into consideration, as must the particularly sensitive question of the German minority living there, forced to seek a middle path between integration and preservation of independence. European political debates between Germans and Silesians, the refugee organisations and the Federal Government convey an image of differing interests and the consideration of a partner state which must find its way between the requirements of the European Union for regionalisation and the interests of groups within the nation state
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