Promote the European added value of territorial cooperation and, with the support of the EGTC Platform (EGTC portal), promote the implementation of the Regulation on the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) at national level, as well as the mainstreaming of the EGTC beyond regional policy
Highlight the role of cross-border cooperation in the future of Cohesion policy and follow-up on the proposal of the Luxembourg Presidency on cross-border cooperation and the study of the Commission on the matter
The CoR President participated at the Informal Ministerial Meetings on Territorial Cohesion and Urban Policy in Luxembourg, on 26 and 27 November 2015. The Presidency Conclusions made on this occasion took on board CoR' recommendations on the matter, namely
"highlighted the complementarity of this initiative in relation to the efforts undertaken by the European Commission, in particular the launch of a review and a public consultation on cross-border obstacles, and the support given by the committee of the Regions in presenting an opinion on this topic.
recommended "a follow-up by the incoming Presidency Trio to further explore the existing opportunities for the efficient cooperation in border areas in Europe and to further analyse the necessity for developing adequate and complementary tools together with the European Commission, to be considered separately or in the framework of the preparation of the legislative package for Cohesion policy post-2020".
underlined "that this action supports a result-oriented European Territorial Cooperation that helps to solve common problems, facilitates the sharing of ideas and assets, and encourages strategic work towards common goals".
The impact of the CoR opinion was also reinforced by the fact that the Council officially circulated the opinion to all delegations before the informal ministerial meetings on 26 and 27 November 2015.
In addition, in a letter from Commissioner Crețu addressed to the CoR President Markkula on 18 December 2015, the Commissioner welcomed the opinion which had come at crucial moment, with Commission's activities in relation to the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Interreg in 2015. She indicated that the European Commission would be reviewing the bottlenecks which continue to hinder cooperation across borders. In addition, she took good note of CoR's remarks regarding the Luxembourg Presidency's proposal for a new legal tool for cross-border projects, the role of the EGTCs and the need to pursue the simplification of procedure.
On 29 March 2016, the CoR received a follow-up to the opinions adopted during the Plenary Session of October 2015. As regards the CoR's recommendation to consider the Luxembourg proposal and develop it further in light of the results of the cross-border review currently being carried out by the Commission, the European Commission welcomed the CoR's support for the ongoing review of cross-border obstacles. While the analysis and assessment is being carried out under the responsibility of the Commission, a joint discussion of results shall be envisaged.
As regards the relation between EGTCs and the Luxembourg proposal, the Commission has noted that EGTC is a legal instrument to set up a joint body ("who is implementing?"), whereas the Luxembourg EU presidency's proposal aims at a method on how to reconcile differing national rules ("how to implement?"). The Commission has, therefore, taken note of the new proposal, which needs to be thoroughly explored, including with regard to the appropriate legal basis in the Treaty.
In addition, the Commission has confirmed its commitment to clarify and publicize the role of EGTCs and has confirmed that it will maintain its close and fruitful cooperation with the CoR and its EGTC platform.
The Government of Luxembourg created, in 2016, a working group of experts from different EU Member States with the aim of developing a concrete proposal for the Regulation on "European Cross-Border Convention". The working group has met several times during 2016 and a proposal will be presented in early 2017. The European Committee of the Regions has been an active contributor both in terms of logistics, by providing the working space for the working group, and in terms of content, in the development of this proposal. The group intends to draw conclusions by the end of 2017, leading to a legislative proposal which ideally should start at the end of 2018.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the call for an improved regulatory framework for cross-border cooperation, for the specific legal provisions that already exist on different aspects of this cooperation to be implemented, and for the legal framework in place to be improved or expanded in order to make it easier to adopt sector-specific rules or rules covering certain geographical areas;
- highlights the role of the EGTC in supporting and promoting cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation between Member States or local and regional authorities;
- welcomes the European Commission's stated aim of carrying out, by the end of 2016, an analysis of the barriers to cross-border cooperation that will look at solutions and examples of good practices;
- welcomes the latest initiative of the Luxembourg presidency to present a first suggestion of a new legal tool, with the objective of allowing Member States affected by a specific cross-border project to agree on a legal framework created from the existing laws of these Member States and applicable only to this specific cross-border project. It provides a valuable input into the upcoming discussion on the future of cross-border cooperation;
- points out that, at this stage, the proposal for a new tool raises a number of questions which need to be properly scrutinised in the upcoming debate, such as special regime of derogations to the applicable law, competencies of the Member States, issue of constitutionality;
- welcomes all of the simplifications made in the amended EGTC Regulation which took effect on 22 June 2014, some of which were proposed by the CoR, but is disappointed to note that some Member States have been relatively slow to adopt this amended EGTC Regulation.