The European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) is about to become a reality, as EU member States face the 1st August 2007 deadline to develop the rules necessary to implement the EU Regulation. This was the major theme discussed today at an international conference organised in Brussels by the Assembly of European Regions (AER, www.aer.eu), together with the Austrian region of Styria. More than 60 regional and national specialists gathered together, to work out in detail how the EGTC can best be put into practice by the regions.“We are worried by possible EU Member State delays in integrating the EGTC Regulation into national legislation. We are aware that some of these States do not support the EGTC politically”, said Klaus Klipp, AER Secretary General. Mr. Klipp added: “The EGTC represents a major contribution to a “Europe of the Regions”, it represents a major step forward towards stronger cooperation among European regions, citizens and societies, which is -in the end- much more effective than purely intergovernmental cooperation”.
What is the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation?
The European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) is a new Community legal instrument, aimed at boosting cooperation between European regions. Created by the European Regulation n. 1082/2006, with strong support from Commissioner Danuta Hübner, this instrument is directly applicable in all 27 EU Member States.
It enables the creation of entities, called “EGTCs”, with a legal identity, composed of members (mainly public institutions from at least two Member States), whose goal is to develop projects of common interest.
The EGTC aims to overcome the existing obstacles hindering territorial co-operation in Europe: each EGTC would be invested with a legal personality, and would be based on an agreement between the participating local and regional authorities, known as a ‘Convention of European Cross-border Co-operation’.
The EGTC can be used for a range of different purposes: one of the major ones would be the management of EU-funded programmes under the Structural Funds. In this regard, INTERREG IV programmes, whose management structures are being set up, appear as an ideal field for the creation of the first EGTCs.
The AER strongly supports the EGTC
It is generally acknowledged that the EGTC will build up a new dimension of interregional cooperation and have the potential to make existing interregional projects even more effective. Therefore, the AER actively supports its development, because: a) the EGTC will help to eliminate many of the legal and administrative barriers that the regions face when implementing cross-border projects; b) it will create a model recognised throughout Europe, which regions can follow when setting up new partnerships; c) it will draw upon best practice developed within cooperation mechanisms already in place.
In the coming months, the AER will – together with “Mecca Consulting”– develop support tools for regions on the EGTC, as part of an INTERACT initiative. In the autumn, a number of training courses and seminars will be organised for the regions, in order to help them to learn how to make the best use of this new instrument.
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