The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation: An Innovative Advancement of Regional Cross-Border Governance but Still Far From Being a Panacea
To overcome the detrimental impact of the so-called“border effect”, the European Union and its member states established the INTERREG programs in 1990. The issue of a persisting “institutional void” hampered, however, substantially the actual policy impact of these cooperation over the years. In order to tackle this issue, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) regulation was finally adopted in 2006 and amended in 2013 and provides since then a comprehensive institutional framework for cross-border cooperation. Through an analysis of the regulation and a comprehensive assessment of the various monitoring reports, two particular added values can be identified. First, while national governments maintain their role as gatekeepers of Regional Cross-Border Governance, the EGTC enables its members to exploit the newly provided supranational legal and institutional framework for cooperation. At the same time, institutional flexibility and various diversification opportunities concerning the policy, polity, and politics dimensions are implemented, which allows the creation of innovative and place-based territorial cooperation structures. A central conclusion of this article is that despite the EGTC regulation’s added value, this instrument constitutes no panacea concerning Regional Cross-Border Governance. Cooperation is still primarily dependent on the individual commitment by the members to create sustainable results, which is still the most decisive factor whether a cooperation succeeds or not.