AEBR/CoR Seminar "The participation of citizens from border regions in the Operational Programmes – The case of the EGTC", held on 19 November 2013 at the CoR in Brussels:



​On 19 November 2013, the Committee of the Regions and the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) organized jointly a seminar on the issue of the participation of citizens of the border regions in Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes. The seminar also focused on the specific situation of the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), which are called on to have a more active role in the next programming period.
The conclusions of this seminar have been sent to the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, stressing that border regions and EGTCs have to be involved in the preparation of the programming documents and underlining the principles of multi-level governance and partnership, according to Art. 5 of the Common Provisions Regulation and to the European Code of Conduct on Partnership.
The seminar was co-chaired by Mr Herwig Van Staa (AT/EPP), President of the Parliament of the Land Tyrol and political coordinator of the EGTC Platform of the CoR, and by Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz (BE/PES) Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, President of PES Group in the CoR and President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR). The European Commission was represented by Mr Dirk Peters, team leader and legal officer at the Legal Affairs Unit of the Direction General of Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission.
For the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Mr Herwig van Staa, "borders should not be an impediment but a meeting point to implement the Strategy Europe 2020". The border regions and their structures of cooperation, in particular existing and future EGTCs, have to be taken into account in the moment of drafting the Partnership Agreements and the Operational Programmes, which are the main instruments of implementation of the future cohesion policy. Mr Van Staa called to open the decisional procedures to public scrutiny and participation, in particular for border regions, Euroregions and EGTCs.
Mr Van Staa recalled the example of the Europaregion Tirol-Südtirol-Trentino, currently an EGTC, and also highlighted the contribution of transfrontier cooperation in the framework of the Council of Europe.
For the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz, pointed out that the EGTC is currently a vibrant reality behind its acronym. The map edited by the AEBR can give an overview of the geographic importance of the areas of cooperation. Mr Lambertz welcomed the improvements of the new EGTC Regulation, which will be inscribed into European law in a few hours or days and which will facilitate territorial cooperation. Now, the demands of the societies of border regions, Euroregions and EGTCs have to be listened to.
For the European Commission, Mr Dirk Peters updated the participants on the adopted revision of the EGTC Regulation. In the future programming period, the EGTC will be able to manage a programme or a part thereof, and will be able to be a managing authority exerting first level control; an EGTC will be entitled to be beneficiary of a Joint Action Plan, and it will be able to implement an Integrated Territorial Investment as an intermediate body, combining funding from different programmes. Mr Peters informed the participants about Art. 5 of the Common Provisions Regulation and about the Code of Conduct on Partnership. In general all public authorities "may" be involved in the Investment for Growth and Jobs Goal. However, in practice the Member States are already drafting their documents: Nearly all the Partnership Agreements are already drafted ("it is five minutes to noon"), and in practice there are not many mentions of the EGTC. Concerning the different Operational Programmes, if the EGTCs and border areas want to be involved, it has to be done as soon as possible ("it is ten minutes to noon", warned Mr Peters).
For the Committee of the Regions, members of the five political groups were present: In addition to Mr Van Staa and Mr LambertzMr Patrick McGowan(IE/ALDE), Mr Uno Silberg (EE/EA) and Mr Pavel Branda (CZ/ECR) expressed their support to the cross-border cooperation in the future programming. 
Mr Diogo Pinto, Secretary General of the European Movement and co-chair of EYCA, and Mr Roman Haken, Member of the EESC, called for further involvement of the civil society and presented examples and modalities of this participation.
Dr Nora Ivády, representing the Hungarian government, presented the actions implemented by Hungary to facilitate the participation of the EGTCs in the national programming. The seminar was attended by several Member States and Ukraine, EGTCs like Euro-GO and ZASNET, regional and local authorities, and academia.
The seminar was organized in the framework of the European Year of Citizens 2013, with the support of the European Year of Citizens' Alliance (EYCA).

Source and more information about the proceedings of this event: Portal of the EGTC Platform at the CoR: 

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