The Rhine as Prelude to Transnational Cooperation and the Common Market
This chapter examines the role of the Rhine Commission in the development of the Rhine as one of the world’s most important commercial waterways. Transnational cooperation is perceived today as a key component of environmental protection, but in the past many cooperative projects resulted in economic development at the expense of the environment. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, diplomats established the Rhine Commission to foster European political cooperation and economic growth, much as the European Union and Common Market do today. However, the Commission’s single-minded purpose—the improvement of navigation through river engineering—came at the expense of the river’s natural ecology. The Rhine Commission served as a model for river commissions across the globe for the next century and a half, resulting in a multitude of industrial rivers that have a canal-like profile and a degraded biological habitat.
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