On 29 March the "European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation" came under the spotlight, with representatives from different EGTCs and all the European institutions coming together in Brussels to review the new EGTC regulation. Its objective is to facilitate the establishment and everyday functioning of EGTCs throughout Europe. In addition, the practical role EGTCs can play in translating the EU 2020 strategy was looked at.
An EGTC is an instrument created for local and regional authorities in different Member States who would like to work together on concrete issues they share. These may include for example ensuring cross-border transportation facilities, access to healthcare, learning languages, etc. 26 EGTCs have now been set up, covering more than 570 local authorities and 22 million citizens. Danuta Hübner, president of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee, highlighted the Eurometropolis as being the very first EGTC in Europe.
At the Brussels meeting, there was consensus on the fact thatEGTCs provided significant added value in the context of finding solutions to the day-to-day problems of border regions. The necessity of approving the EGTC regulation in the short term played a key role, with a view to enabling the changes to come into effect as quickly as possible. Michel Delebarre, rapporteur for the EGTC regulation at the Committee of the Regions, underlined the added-value of EGTCs not just in terms of cohesion policy, but also in other fields such as education or research.
In the afternoon workshops, Stef Vande Meulebroucke, Eurometropolis CEO, agreed with this finding, putting forward a concrete proposal to the Committee of the Regions: "It is of vital importance that employees from all European institutions are aware that EGTCs have a role to play in a number of different policy areas. I would therefore like to propose inviting the employees of all EU institutions to a future meeting, giving EGTCs the opportunity to showcase the areas they are active in." This proposal was immediately welcomed by the majority of other EGTCs and by Martín Guillermo-Ramírez, secretary-general of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).