Bridging borders through institution-building: the EGTC as a facilitator of institutional integration in cross-border regions
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 crossborder integration is still rather limited due to a narrow design of institutions and a low level of actor involvement.