Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig was established in September 1997. The partners of the formalized cross-border region are the municipalities of Tønder, Aabenraa, Haderslev and Sønderborg, and regional council of southern Denmark, the districts Schleswig-Flensburg and Nordfriesland, plus the city of Flensburg.
The area of the border region corresponds approximately to the old Duchy of Schleswig, a traditionally Danish area divided after a referendum in 1920. Geography and historical developments created the foundation of a common development, which was interrupted by wars in 1864, 1914-18 and 1939-1945. Naturally, these wars lead to animosities between Danish and German on a national and especially on a regional level. After 1945, cross-border relations were then minimized to smuggling activities. Only after Denmark joined the EU /then EG in 1973, foundations for future cross-border contacts were established. During the 1980s, informal contacts between local authorities dominated.
When the Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig was founded in 1997 as administrative and political cooperation in the Danish-German border region, cross-border relationships were put on more solid grounds. The Region works for better life conditions for both minorities and majorities in the border region and to generally make life and work in a more peripheral region possible. Therefore, especially culture has been put very high on the agenda from the beginning on. Without culture events and infrastructure, research proves, that the regional youth moves to more central regions.
Since 1997, the Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig has worked with a wide range of issues. Language projects have been initiated from the beginning, but also cross-border logistics, nature and youth events have been held. During the last years, the overall development in the region has been the establishment of diverse cooperations between e.g. hospitals, schools, kindergartens, administrations and museums. Often but not always, the Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig has been actively involved in the process. The direction of the development has been the limitation of issues. For the last couple of years, the region has been mainly focusing on cross-border job market, culture and cooperation on an administrative level. This has been due to the fact that other actors have been actively involved in cross-border activities, which is good, as it proves that the idea of changing the negative impacts of a more rural area into a position of strength has spread.