First meeting of Iberian EGTCs in Vigo (Galicia, Spain):



 

On 16-17 July 2019 the EGTC Galicia-North Portugal (GNP AECT/EGTC) organized in Vigo the first meeting of Spanish-Portuguese EGTCs. Most EGTCs in the Iberian Peninsula took part, as well as other organizations from Spain, Portugal and the EU, including Slaven Klobucar (Coordinator of the EGTCs Platform at the European Committee of the Regions), Ricardo Ferreira (Border Focal Point, DG Regio, European Commission), Teresa Sá Marques (University of Porto), Emilio Canda (Sub-directorate general of European Territorial Cooperation at the Spanish Government) and AEBR Secretary General.

In the opening session, Corina Porro (Delegate of the Regional Government in Vigo), Jesús Gamallo (Director General for Foreign Relations and EU of the Regional Government of Galicia – Xunta), and Ester Gomes da Silva (Vice-president of the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of Norte Region of Portugal) welcomed the participants and opened the topics for debate. They stressed common challenges for both regions such as ageing, and common opportunities of joint development, through common management of problems, particularly cross-border ones.

During his keynote speech, Slaven Klobucar highlighted the new opportunities for EGTCs in the coming programming period, but also the Cohesion struggle (ECBM, small project funds and people-to-people projects) and the need to build trust and avoid neglection of border areas.

Spanish and Portuguese EGTCs had the chance to present their entities and projects, debate and exchange experiences and good practices, get to know new opportunities and challenges at EU level and analyse possible joint projects. To this end, Ester da Silva chaired a series of round tables. The first one started with Ricardo Ferreira, who updated on the consequences of the Cross-Border Review and the Communication, as well as the role of the Border Focal Point (BFP) and the current state of Cohesion Policy in the EU. Coordination of Interreg with other European, national and regional programmes, functional areas, ECBM/b-Solutions, thematic areas, missing railway links, cross-border healthcare and public services and cross-border data are the priorities at the BFP. AEBR Secretary General presented the role of EGTC in European integration and AEBR experience on legal and administrative obstacles in cross-border contexts (b-Solutions).

During the second round table, Xosé Lago (GNP EGTC) presented Iacobus, the Galician-Norte Erasmus, Sara Azcona (Duero-Douro EGTC) their highly profiled projects on sustainable energy, Uxío Benítez (Minho River EGTC) the projects of one of the youngest EGTCs (Visit, Smart, Mobility, Branding). During the third round table, Ana Isabel Carvalho (ZASNET EGTC) presented the Meseta Ibérica Platform, Pablo Rivera (Chaves-Verín EGTC) various touristic initiatives and a smart cross-border card, Jesús Nùñez (León-Bragança EGTC) their strategic cooperation plan and Luis Romão (Guadiana Eurocity EGTC) their concentration in grassroots work. Emilio Canda (Sub-directorate General for European Territorial Cooperation, Spanish Ministry of Finances) explained the crucial moment for next budget and programmes and stressed some weird rules, such as the 25 km one, n+2, etc. He also stressed the role of macroregional strategies and functional areas. Teresa Sá Marques (University of Porto) delivered a presentation on sustainable, integrated and collaborative development in cross-border territories, indicating main challenges (low population density and ageing in some areas).

The event managed to achieve a facilitation and promotion of cooperation and exchange of experiences between Iberian EGTCs, and fostered a joint reflection on the role of these entities in the cooperation between neighbouring border territories. Fernando Freire de Sousa (President of the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of Norte Region of Portugal) closed the event after Xosé Lago’s reading of main conclusions under the “Vigo Declaration”, which was unanimously approved by all participants. The Vigo Declaration synthetizes all participants’ contributions on the role of EGTCs in the construction of the European Union.

The programme ended with a very interesting guided tour to the Cíes Islands within the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Galician Atlantic Islands.

You can find the declaration in Spanish and Portuguese.

More information and presentations in PDF can be found here.

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