The city of Nitra and Nitra Self-governing Region see implementation of European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) programmes as an important opportunity and a means of developing regions through cooperation. The founding members of the new Pontibus EGTC are convinced it will help to further the overall aim for which it was set up, namely strengthening economic and social cohesion – and not just between the regions and areas along the Danube. There will be no shortage of other initiatives to extend economic cooperation between Slovakia's southern regions and Hungary, especially Pest county, as well as collaboration on transport, culture and other fields. The EGTC members have also marked out priority areas for cooperation that fit hand in glove with the directions set out in strategy documents at all levels and in all areas.
The most important issues for the partners in the grouping are developing transport infrastructure, the economy, research and innovation, tourism and energy. Acting as representatives for the partner authorities are the cities of Nitra and Levica in Slovakia and Budapest and Vác in Hungary. Since Nitra mayor Jozef Dvonč and Nitra region governor Milan Belica are both members of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, there is an opportunity here too to pool experience and insights from various areas of local and regional government involvement in cooperation with municipalities and towns in other countries. Swapping ideas is a great help in developing and improving services to the public and getting authorities to raise their game. The EGTC also makes it possible to collaborate on developing tourism, on social and cultural activity and on various exchange schemes – and, last but not least, it provides a forum for designing joint projects financed from EU funds.
The first ambition Pontibus' members share is to apply to manage the small projects fund for the western stretch of the Slovak-Hungarian border under the 2014-2020 crossborder operational programme between Slovakia and Hungary. This involves managing and implementing roughly 300 projects worth more than EUR 6 million over seven years. The city of Nitra expects to see an improvement in both supranational and interregional cooperation. Another of the main goals is to intensify cooperation between – in particular – the border areas of Slovakia and Hungary. It is very important that conditions are put in place that really facilitate Cohesion Fund take-up beyond the two countries concerned – that is, Hungary and Slovakia.