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Brussels, 19 June 2008

European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation: Conference puts spotlight on new tool to help regions team up for projects across borders

A conference in Brussels today puts the spotlight on a new tool that makes it easier for regions to team up to manage projects involving more than one Member State. The conference, entitled 'Building a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation', aims to promote setting up new groupings under the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) instrument. The event is organised jointly by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, in cooperation with the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union and the European Parliament.

Bottlenecks arising from different legal and administrative systems can hinder cooperation among regions in different Member States at a time when there is growing interest in expanding it. The EGTC is new European legal instrument designed to enable regional and local authorities from different Member States to set up cooperation groupings with a legal personality. Such groupings can facilitate cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, enabling those taking part to deliver transport or health services, for instance.

"This new instrument will make it much easier for regions that want to team up to deliver projects in, for instance, health and transport to improve the quality of life across borders in EU countries. I hope this conference will open up a political discussion, promote understanding of the mechanism and enable participants to exchange experiences so far," Commissioner Danuta Hübner said.

"The Committee of the Regions is calling on all Member States to implement national provisions on the EGTC so that all regions and cities in Europe can participate in the scheme. The CoR backed the EGTC from the start and I am delighted that two groupings – Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai in French and Belgian Flanders and Esztergom-Štúrovo in Hungary and Slovakia - are up and running. The EGTC will help to get rid of red tape and enable partners to realise joint projects that meet public needs," said President of the Committee of the Regions Luc Van den Brande.

Among the advantages of forming an EGTC are:

• Allowing members to create a single legal body, using a single set of rules to implement joint initiatives in two or more Member States. This means, for instance, a single staff employment contract, and common procedures for procurement. Such measures make it far easier for contractors to work with an EGTC.

• Allowing stakeholders in two or more Member States to cooperate on joint initiatives without the need to sign an international agreement needing ratification by their parliaments. EGTC members can choose the activities over which they will cooperate, and specify the decision-making process and internal rules.

• Allowing EGTCs to respond directly to calls for projects launched by EU territorial programmes and to act as the single Managing Authority for them.

• Giving a clear political signal that cooperation with partners in other Member States is important and supported at the highest political level.

EGTC in action: A Franco-Belgian initiative, 'Eurométropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai', was the first EGTC to be formally launched, in January 2008. It involves 14 partner institutions from the French Département Nord and the Belgian regions of West-Vlaanderen and Hainaut. The ‘Eurométropole’ will develop projects in the field of sustainable development, transport and services to improve quality of life for almost two million inhabitants in the two countries.

Notes for editors

The EGTC is a new instrument offered to Member States, regional and local authorities, associations and any other public bodies to overcome bottlenecks to cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, whether with EU investment, national or private funding for programmes and projects

A regulation on EGCTs was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in July 2006. To date, 13 Member States have adopted national provisions to make the regulation on EGTCs effective. They are: Hungary, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, Greece, Spain, Slovenia, France, Slovakia, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia. The others have reported work in progress to this end.

The nature of such provisions may vary according to the national framework. The provisions clarify issues such as the legal regime applicable, the types of task to be carried out, naming of the authority, and whether partners from non-EU countries are included.

The Conference page:

The Handbook on EGTC:

Committee of the Regions:

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