Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A new era in cross-border integration

A major step forward in cross-border co-operation was achieved last week, with the creation of the first European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation (EGTC). This unwieldy name disguises a new legal instrument for smoothing the running of cross-border programmes and projects. It gives cross-border groupings a formal identity and solid legal base for their work. The Committee of the Regions has a very good overview webpage on EGTCs - http://www.cor.europa.eu/en/activities/egtc.htm. Indeed, the CoR has been very active in EGTCs issues, even setting up an Expert Group to assist the setting up and operation of EGTCs.

The front runners are the Eurometropole on the French-Belgian border (see tinyurl.com/2r2dhe). There is a long history of co-operation here, and it is not surprising that they have taken the lead here.

Equally unsurprising is that the Member States have been very slow in setting up their national rules for EGTCs. Only about 6 or 7 have put these in place, despite a deadline of 1 August 2007. Commissioner Hübner, in the European Parliament last week, issued some veiled warnings to the slackers about the need to speed up implementation.

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