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The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) instrument is supposed to facilitate cooperation between member states, regional and local authorities and public bodies at cross-border, transnational and interregional level. It has become increasingly established since its introduction in 2006. Although Germany has nine neighbouring countries, there are currently only nine EGTCs with German partners. This is mainly due to a lack of experience and uncertainty in using the instrument. This Demonstration Project of Spatial Planning (MORO) therefore aimed to reduce ambiguities and concerns and to provide legal advice to German players who are in the process of an EGTC foundation.
European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) aim to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation between their members. They may be formed by member states, their regional and/or local authorities and other public bodies. Due to its specific legal form enshrined in Union law, the EGTC instrument offers EGTC’s members the basis for legal certainty, planning certainty and legal clarity. It thus directly serves the implementation of the EU cohesion policy.
The possibility of setting up EGTCs was first created by Regulation (EC) 1082/2006. The Regulation was amended (Regulation (EU) 1302/2013) in the context of the reorganisation of the Structural Funds in 2013 to clarify the use of the instrument. The amendment aimed to facilitate the establishment and management of EGTCs and to eliminate ambiguities in the application of the Regulation.
The number of EGTCs has risen steadily since the introduction of the instrument in 2006 and increased to 73 by November 2019. However, German players have so far been involved in nine EGTCs, three of which are based in Germany (November 2019). In addition, there are several founding processes, some of which also aim to have their registered EGTC office in Germany. In recent years, German interest in EGTC foundations has increased, particularly along the Austrian, Czech and Polish borders.
The EGTC instrument has numerous advantages (e.g. own legal personality, more extensive financing possibilities, public players’ continuous and transparent cooperation across borders). They give spatial cooperation a new quality. Nevertheless, even after the amendment of the Regulation in 2013, the founding process is still considered to be complex and time-consuming. This implies a need for information and advice, which has been addressed by this Demonstration Project of Spatial Planning (MORO). Previous findings on the use of the EGTC instrument by German players indicate that the hitherto limited use is mainly due to a lack of knowledge, experience and uncertainty about the instrument’s application. The lack of knowledge and uncertainty is in particular caused by legal complexity. In addition to the EGTC Regulation, at least two national legal systems must be taken into account when setting up an EGTC. Individual and national legal interpretations of regulations and different implementations of the EGTC Regulation in national law add to the complexity. Altogether, this leads to a considerable need for advice for potential EGTCs and their stakeholders, which goes beyond the information provided so far (e.g. by the guidelines for setting up an EGTC, answers to frequently asked questions) and focuses on specific legal issues.
This Demonstration Project of Spatial Planning addressed German players interested in setting up an EGTC. It pursued the following objectives:
The focus was on providing advice to stakeholders wishing to set up an EGTC. They were to be supported with expertise in legal issues during the set-up process. This included legal contexts and requirements arising from the different national legal matters, but also implications for the process to obtain approval and the subsequent ongoing work of the EGTC. Particularly important was the formulation of the founding documents (convention and statutes).
Apart from concrete advisory services for German players seriously pursuing the establishment of an EGTC, the findings gained in the Demonstration Project were to be made permanently available to other interested parties. The project had thus a multiplier function. Concrete approaches and model solutions for typical problems were to be developed and made publicly available. This will be beneficial for future EGTC setting up processes.
Finally, the Demonstration Project aimed to promote exchange between EGTCs in the process of being set up and existing EGTCs. The limited number of existing EGTCs has also limited the available experience. It is therefore even more important to bring together interested and experienced players so that they can enhance their exchange of knowledge and experience and learn from each other.
Contractors of the research project were Spatial Foresight, Berlin, and Hempel Krzymuski Partner Rechts- und Wirtschaftsberatung, Leipzig & Frankfurt (Oder).
Dr. Rupert Kawka
Division SU 1 "Spatial Development"
Phone: +49 228 99401-1314