The Midlands could benefit economically from going back to the Middle Ages and assuming a city state-like existence, it has been claimed.
Michel de Fabiani, president of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the advancement of regions was the way forward for greater European development.
Areas like the Midlands could reap great economic benefits from linking with similar zones across the continent to achieve greater economies of scale and bigger markets.
It could also profit from linking with comparable regions to improve research and development clusters for high tech industries.
Transport opportunities and infrastructure could also be bettered by regions, rather than countries, working together.
Eventually many regions in Europe would benefit by dealing with each other directly rather than through their capital cities, Mr de Fabiani added.
He said: "The regions are important culturally and historically, but there is also a business logic for them getting together.
"Areas could benefit from harnessing greater scale and linking their skills with complimentary areas.
"But this is not exploited enough in Europe.
"There should be more emphasis on cross regional opportunities, and less and less on national level.
"This is the next stage of European development, it's like going back to the Middle Ages.
"I think the West Midlands could benefit from this."
Environmental schemes like solar and wind energy were an obvious example where cross border cooperation could benefit the regions, he said.
"There is more commonality between regions like Catalonia, southern France and northern Italy, for example, than there are between some parts of France.
"If you look at renewable energy for example, that has nothing to do with national borders.
" You could have wave energy schemes across the western Mediterranean which have nothing to Paris, London or Berlin.
"Political leaders and business leaders should spend less time in their capitals and a bit more time with their other cities and in the cross regional environment.
"This is sometimes a big problems for political people, but for businesses it offers a lot of opportunities.
"There are already signs of this happening, in Scotland for example, which ships some products directly to Zeebrugge rather than transporting things through England first," he added.
Mr de Fabiani said improved links need not just be limited to territories which are situated next to each other, but shared similar industries and could combine on research and development efforts.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post at the World Investment Conference in La Baule, France, Mr de Fabiani said he expected greater integration to happen during the next ten years.
"There are differences of tax, pensions, and social services to be overcome, but that is the next level.
"There is less historical baggage to overcome between the regions than at a national level.
"There is less distance than between them than between them and Brussels, and people will be able to see the benefits for themselves."
Norman Price, deputy chairman of Advantage West Midlands, said the region was working on cross border schemes, but acknowledged some problems.
He said: "There is a lot to be said for regions having their own offices.
" The regions are very important because they help bundle all the projects together and provide a strategic framework.
"Plus we are closer to the demand from business, particularly small business.
"But central Government is wary of the regions, they feel we might be additional competition.
"They do underrate us, but we do work."