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Introductory meeting of the Committee of the Regions Expert Group on European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation

Photo: Janez Kotar

The first, introductory meeting of the Committee of the Regions expert group on EGTC was held today at the Brdo Congress Centre under the title “Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of activating an EGTC”. The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has set up a group of 31 experts, representatives of different regions, joined by Slovenian experts and members of the Slovenian delegation to the CoR, as well as representatives of ministries and government offices. The Vice-president of the CoR, Mr Luc Van den Brande, and representatives of certain departments of the European Commission and the European Parliament attended the meeting, which was hosted by the State Secretary in the Government Office for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy, Mr Marko Starman.

The initiative of the CoR to set up an expert group was wholeheartedly embraced by the regions, given that as many as 160 regions expressed the desire to take an active part in an instrument they perceive as an important and useful tool conducive to strengthened territorial cooperation. Setting up European groupings for territorial cooperation will result in the emergence of networks that will augment the visibility of European integration processes amongst EU citizens. In so doing, an important contribution will be made as regards the reinforcement of the acquis communautaire.

The EGTC expert group works as a bridge between practitioners and institutions and is intended to monitor the adoption and implementation of measures at the Member State level, to facilitate the exchange of experiences on the establishment of EGTCs at the regional level, and to share best practice in the said field, as well as to identify potential for exploiting EGTC as a tool for cohesive territorial development.

Achieving goals in the field of cohesion policy is literally impossible to imagine without the indispensable element of territorial cohesion, whose aim is to provide assistance in achieving a more balanced development, establishing sustainable communities in urban and rural areas and ensuring greater consistency with other sectoral policies with spatial effects, and whose key instrument is Objective 3. Cross-border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation further complements and speeds up economic growth and contributes to the sustainable development of regions. 

The relatively slow enforcement of Regulation (EC) No. 1082/2006 on EGTCs in Member States has brought to light several issues of mutual interest, among others the possibility of establishing a Euroregion, coordination of local and trans-European networks, and cooperation in overcoming past burdens in border areas, as well as cooperation between urban centres. The territorial aspect of cohesion enables Member States to go beyond their borders and join efforts for the enhanced growth and competitiveness of the European economy. Furthermore, the established regional aspect of EU structural policy provides an appropriate framework for mobilising partnerships at the regional as well as the local level.

Organisation of the first EGTC expert group meeting during the Slovenian EU Presidency represents recognition and, furthermore, a great responsibility for the Government Office for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy to define, along with renowned experts in the field and representatives of regions, the direction that further discussions on the significance of and role played by the EGTC instrument in reinforcing cohesion throughout Europe.


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Date: 21.01.2008