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See also transnational partnership

Transnationality is a principle of carrying out an action across national borders, so as to have effects at a more general level. It is commonly referred to with reference to the actions of the European Union, in distinction to 'international' (among national governments and controlled by them) or 'supranational' (suggesting powers delegated to a higher level of government).

According to the principle of subsidiarity, actions ought to be taken at the lowest level of government possible, so as to maximise democratic accountability and responsiveness to people's needs. The actions of the EU are therefore often justified by reference to 'transnational added value'. This means that the lessons of the experience of one country may prove useful in another.

Transnationality is a strong dimension of the EU Cohesion Policy and specifically of the way that ESF and ERDF actions can be improved. It also features within the methodologies for the open method of coordination (OMC). Transnationality was one of the four guiding principles of EQUAL.

In EQUAL, transnational co-operation happened at three levels:1

  • between Development Partnerships from two or more Member States;these DPs must be involved in similar or complementary activities, must share common or complementary approaches, and must be ready to develop joint strategies, approaches or products;
  • between national thematic networks of Development Partnerships where DPs share at European level experience they have validated in their national thematic networks; the European Commission facilitates this work, reviewing strategic approaches and their results relevant at EU level, and disseminating into Europe-wide discussion and policy fora;
  • between the Managing Authorities and National Support Structures and key people and organisations across the EU; within the Community Initiative Programmes (CIPs) the responsible Management Authorities have committed themselves to close collaboration and mutual learning through working groups and meetings co-ordinated by the European Commission, and through direct co-operation between Member States.

(1) EQUAL Guide on Transnational Cooperation, p. 4: