Bridging borders through institution-building: the EGTC as a facilitator of institutional integration in cross-border regions
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This article examines cross-border integration at the sub-state level in the frame of a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). The EGTC is a supranational and directly applicable EU legal instrument that regulates the creation of cross-border ‘associations' with legal personality between public authorities. Thus, it represents a policy tool that can have an effect on the institutional frame of cross-border cooperation and potentially enhance cross-border institutional integration at the sub-state level. The aim of this article is to examine the potential effect of this EU instrument on cross-border institutional integration by studying the institutional architecture of selected EGTCs. This is done on the basis of an analytical grid that defines elements of a possible integration process based on an institutional-oriented approach. This analytical grid is applied to four case studies: the Eurométropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, the EGTC Ister-Granum, the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion and the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino. The empirical analysis shows that despite the considerable improvement of the legal basis for cooperation, the possible effect of the EGTC for further institutional cross-border integration is still rather limited due to a narrow design of institutions and a low level of actor involvement.
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