Cross-Boundary Collaborations

Cross-boundary collaboration is an organisational challenge as it can be difficult to break organisational habits of silo-thinking and acting to the detriment of crisis management. However, with larger disasters and increased interoperability, there is a greater reliance upon outside help and hence the possibility of cross-border but also cross-institutional operations has to be taken into account. This means that there is a greater need for CISs to encourage horizontal communication, not just vertical.

Guiding Questions

How can the collaborative space be set up in ways that support finding counterparts in other regions?
If you take data from NGOs or the public, or any other group, do you have to share back?

Further Information

The European Union has a long tradition of deliberative collaboration that avoids centralization and builds on long-term mutual respect and understanding between partners. This translates into policies that emphasise solidarity and subsidiarity. In the 2004 Solidarity Declaration member states pledge to jointly mobilise civilian and military means to protect the civilian population in a disaster. The principle of subsidiarity ensures that ‘decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and constant checks are made to verify that action at Union level is justified in light of possibilities available at national, regional or local level’ (EU Glossary). Solidarity and subsidiarity are components of broader values of ‘unity in diversity’, where EU objectives should always leave sufficient implementation room so as to allow for national diversity and flexibility. 

The tension between these two key EU principles is also being played out in crisis and disaster management. For example, how Command and Control is implemented across different national systems varies considerably and there are significant variations in terms of the structures, policies, rules and practices of crisis and disaster management. Even at the emergency responder level however, there can be many differences between countries. While each country typically has emergency responders such as police, firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue etc., the roles and responsibilities of these agencies can differ. These differences include terminology and conceptual differences, including the threshold for what was labelled a crisis, which has been identified as having significant legal and political consequences for issues such as cooperation and coordination across levels and borders. Included in this are also different perceptions of the role of government during a crisis, and that across the EU there was a mix of centralised and decentralised models, including the processes for escalating or de-escalating authority in crisis response.


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Kuipers, S., Boin, A., Bossong, R., and Hegemann, H. (2015). Building Joint Crisis Management Capacity? Comparing Civil Security Systems in 22 European Countries. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 6(1): 1-21. [DOI] [Link]
Bossong, R., and Hegemann, H. (2015). Cooperation under Diversity? Exploring cultural and institutional diversity in European Civil Security Governance. In R. Bossong & H. Hegemann (Eds.), 2015 European Civil Security Governance, Diversity and Cooperation. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Related Key Terms