Brussels, 16 February 2012
The CoR calls for the EGTC to become the preferred instrument for territorial cooperation in European policies
At yesterday's plenary session in Brussels, Committee of the Regions members welcomed the European Commission's proposals to simplify the set-up and operation conditions for the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), the EU's legal instrument for territorial cooperation. They issued a number of recommendations aiming to make the rules more flexible and to promote the EGTC as the preferred instrument for territorial cooperation in European policies.
The EGTC was established in 2006 in the form of an EU regulation following energetic lobbying by the Committee of the Regions (CoR). Twenty-three EGTCs have been set up since then, involving over 500 local and regional authorities in 14 Member States and influencing about 22 million Europeans. Although the instrument is now firmly established and has clearly demonstrated its potential, the set-up and operational procedures are still unduly complex, which is why last October the Commission presented a proposal to review the 2006 regulation.
Michel Delebarre, Mayor of Dunkirk (FR/PES) and rapporteur for the CoR opinion on this subject, emphasised when the opinion was unanimously adopted that "the Commission's proposals are definitely heading in the right direction. Most of the CoR's recommendations have been taken into account, particularly making the procedures for establishing EGTCs simpler and loosening the requirement that an EGTC's mission must dovetail into the competences of its members".
CoR members also see the move to make it easier to set up EGTCs with authorities outside the EU as a very positive step.
Local and regional elected representatives recommend extending the type of enterprise eligible to participate in an EGTC to include those responsible for managing public services, with a view to spurring on cooperation in public transport or public healthcare. They also call for the abolition of the excessive red tape involved in drawing up the agreement to establish an EGTC and clearer criteria for approving the agreement or rejecting the proposal.
"Legally speaking, the Commission has done a good job. We now need to take the idea further", said Mr Delebarre. "We need to ensure that the EGTC becomes the natural instrument for institutional cooperation between local and regional authorities in Europe, and to exploit its potential to transcend borders in other EU policies such as the internal market or innovation."
Mr Delebarre called for the EGTC Regulation to be adopted as swiftly as possible. He asked the European Parliament rapporteur, Joachim Zeller (DE/EPP), to make sure that this issue was dealt with separately from the legislative package on the Structural Funds to avoid the risk of its being needlessly caught up in haggling on the budget for the future cohesion policy.
The CoR has pledged to continue promoting and rooting the EGTC into the institutional landscape by drawing on its EGTC platform, an interactive network of the most active local and regional authorities, and organising an interinstitutional conference on the revision of the EGTC Regulation on 29 March, to be attended by representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission, the CoR and local stakeholders.
Set up in 2006 at the initiative of the CoR in the form of an EU regulation, the EGTC is an instrument for cross-border cooperation which enables cities and regions from different Member States, as well as any other corporation applying public procurement rules, to set up cooperation groups with legal personality. It provides an opportunity to organise and manage cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation activities, thus strengthening the EU's economic and social cohesion.
Behind the administrative jargon are grassroots achievements and specific projects in areas such as infrastructure, spatial planning, environmental protection, healthcare, jobs, education and culture.
Michel Delebarre is a French Senator and Mayor of Dunkirk, coordinator of the CoR's EGTC platform, chairman of the West-Vlaanderen/Flandre-Dunkerque-Côte d'Opale EGTC and president of the Cross-border operational mission.
Visit the CoR's website: www.cor.europa.eu
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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