Taking Stock of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC): From Policy Formulation to Policy Implementation
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The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) has become a central tool for (sub-) state authorities to organize territorial cooperation in the EU. To take stock of this rapid change, the present chapter suggests an analytical framework in two steps. Firstly, the EGTC instrument is symptomatic of a turn in how the European territorial cohesion policy relates to (sub-) state territorial cooperation (policy formulation). Before the publication of the EGTC regulation in 2006, the EU support for territorial cooperation was mainly financial (e.g. INTERREG) and regulatory (e.g. consolidation of the single market). No specific legal framework was provided. The contribution investigates this progressive turn in the cohesion policy. Secondly, the EGTC represents a tool for implementing territorial cooperation (policy implementation). The number of EGTCs created over about a decade demonstrates that this instrument fills a gap in the legislative framework of territorial cooperation. Our comparative assessment of the use of the tool reveals a dominant implementation pattern. Most of the existing EGTCs are territorially bound organizations, set up on adjacent borders by local and regional authorities, a minority being interregional or transregional. Although they mostly have collective action resources and instruments and have identifiable objectives shared by their respective members, they follow a rather traditional pattern of cooperation where each individual member’s core activities primarily relate to a (sub-) state authority and where the EGTC acts primarily as an agent relying on its members.
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