This article investigates territorial cooperation as an instrument that may help to link the two central objectives of the Council of Europe and the European Union: strengthening integration and cohesion, while encouraging and safeguarding diversity. Drawing on studies on minority protection and diversity management as well as on European integration, the authors examine the impact of regional development policies and strategies, in particular territorial cooperation, on minorities, on the one hand, and the importance of minorities for these policies on the other hand. The article focuses on the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) as concrete policy instrument to promote territorial cooperation, studying its practical implementation on the Austrian-Italian border.
The violent conflicts that erupted after the breakup of communist regimes (especially in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) have gradually changed the standing of minority rights and minority protection: first, the differential treatment of minority groups has become a legitimate—if not necessary—instrument to guarantee equality and stability, and, second, minority-rights legislation and minority protection are increasingly regarded as a responsibility shared among national and international actors. This inter-relationship between international instruments and national legal provisions can be usefully observed particularly in the states that emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia. Due to the necessity of ensuring peace and stability, the constitutions of these emerging states have been increasingly influenced by international norms and standards for minority protection—a process that can be characterized as the 'internationalization of constitutional law'. This article assesses these developments, at both the national and international levels, in order to shed light on the particular inter-relationship among these different layers, by looking at the example of selected Western Balkan states.