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posted Oct 1, 2012, 7:42 AM by Plural CentroStudiEuropeo

By Greta Sarracino and Francesco Barilli

Cohesion policy is the main investment instrument for supporting the main priorities of the Union as enshrined in the Europe 2020 strategy. It does so by focusing on the countries and regions where needs are greater. One of the greatest successes of the EU has been its capacity to raise living standards for all its citizens. It does this not only by helping poorer Member States and regions to develop and grow but also through its role in the integration of the Single Market whose size delivers markets and economies of scale to all parts of the EU, rich and poor, big and small. In the Mediterranean area, this means a significant additional effort to reduce the gap with non EU States and to improve the concrete integration between operational instruments financed by ERDF and ENPI funds.

Territorial Cooperation in Europe 2020 strategy

On 29 June 2011, concerning the  proposal for the next multi-annual financial framework for the period 2014-2020, the Commission proposed a number of important changes to the way cohesion policy is  designed and implemented. Concentrating funding on a smaller number of priorities better linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy, focusing on results, monitoring progress towards agreed objectives, increasing the use of conditionalities and simplifying the delivery are among the major hallmarks of the proposal. The overarching policy orientations for future cohesion policy are also applicable in the context of European Territorial Cooperation. In fact, a separate regulation is proposed for European Territorial Cooperation to take better account of multi-country context of the programs and make more specific provisions for cooperation programs and operations, as has been requested by a large number of stakeholders.  The Commission's proposal for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework foresees an amount of EUR 376 billion for economic, social and territorial cohesion for the period 2014-2020, of which EUR 11, 7 billion are addressed to Territorial Cooperation.

Macro regional strategies for macro regional challenges

The 2007-2013 programming period has seen the emergence of new forms of territorial cooperation, tailor-made responses to address macro-regional challenges. At the request of the European Council, two macro-regional strategies have been prepared by the Commission for the Baltic Sea and the Danube Regions respectively. Macro-regional strategies are broad-based integrated instruments covering several Member States and regions focusing on the alignment of policies and funding to increase policy coherence and overall impact of public spending. Given the possible overlap between existing and future macro-regions, sea-basins and transnational program areas, the proposed regulation explicitly foresees that transnational cooperation can also support the development and implementation of macro-regional strategies and sea-basin programs, including the ones established on the external borders of the EU). In this perspective of greater and improved harmonization of rules and objectives, a new significant role will be played by the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGCT). 


Characters of the European grouping of territorial cooperation

In the present 2007-2013, the EGTC is intended as the first European cooperation structure with a legal personality designed to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. According to the current Regulation (EC) 1082/2006, an EGTC is made up of Member States, regional authorities, local authorities and/or bodies governed by public law. An EGTC may carry out actions of territorial cooperation, with or without a financial contribution from the EU. Specifically, an EGTC may be entrusted with implementing programs co-financed by the Community or any other cross-border cooperation project with or without Community funding. It must have members in at least two Member States. The EGTC offers "the possibility of involving different institutional levels in a single cooperative structure", and thus  "opens up the prospect of new forms of multilevel governance, enabling European regional and local authorities to become driving forces in drawing up and implementing EU policy, helping to make European governance more open, participatory, democratic, accountable and transparent". Notwithstanding the great potentialities, the instrument was not fully developed.   

(Too) wide objectives for Mediterranean initiatives

In Mediterranean area, we can enumerate eight EGTCs created for different vocations, involving members from Cyprus, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal: Amphictyony, Archimed, Hospital de la Cerdanya, Duero, Espacio Portalet, Euroregion Pyrénées-Méditérannée, Galicia-Norte Portugal, Zasnet. The unbalanced compositions of consortia, as well as the undefined scopes of twinning seem to be the most remarkable obstacles to concrete efficacy. For example, Amphictyony is representing 34 municipalities of Greece, 18 local authorities of Italy, 8 cities of Cyprus and 1 public actor of France. The main aim of EGCT is “for the people of the Mediterranean to live in a continuously peaceful environment and one of constant development, financially effective, socially just and environmentally viable with cohesion and security in their areas”. Another example is given, on one hand by the Euroregion Pyrénées-Méditérannée, an EGCT with attention to a wide range of priorities: inter-regional economic development, culture, innovation and technology, research and development, tourism, environmental protection, improvement of telecommunication and transport services. On the other hand, the Hospital de la Cerdanya, founded on 4th July 2006, is a focused experimentation about a cross border health system between France and Spain. The project is about the cross border hospital settled in the Region of Cerdanya (French and Catalan) and the region of Capcir (French).

The proposals of EGCT for 2014 2020 period

 During the debate for 2014 2020 period, the Committee of Regions (CoR) with the 88th Plenary session of the 27th and 28th January 2011, has proposed and points of different problems and possible solutions in order to improve the implementation of the Institution: It has showed the weakness and the wrong organization of the EGTC, and it has appealed to the Commission to produces different modifications to the Regulation of 2006 in order to reinforce and renewed the obsolete models. On 14 March 2012 the EU Commission in its Proposal for a Regulation of the European parliament and of the council on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal (COM (2011) 611 final/2) suggests significant modifications to the current framework, stressing the prominent role that European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) can play in a cooperation context. In fact, the EGTC is indicated as the intermediate body to carry out the management and implementation of cooperation programs for what concerns the Joint action plans (Art.8) and the integrated territorial investment (Art. 10). Moreover, Member States participating in cooperation program are encouraged to make use of an EGTC with a view to making the grouping responsible for managing the cooperation program or part thereof, notably by conferring on it the responsibilities of a managing authority.

A new harmonized and integrated Med context

The provision of this kind of interrelations in the framework of further ENPI/ERDF integration could represent an element of strong support to the launch of new concrete initiatives by the Union for Mediterranean in the next years, creating the basis for a more sustainable and harmonized context in the Mediterranean area facilitating the work currently in progress by high level groups and task forces engaged in the design of new Med- IPA Adriatic, South East Europe and ENPI Med Basin Programs