Should EGTCs have competences, and not only tasks? Underlying visions of cross-border integration
Should EGTCs have competences, and not only tasks? The question points at a controversy about the nature of cross-border cooperation, and more specifically, of cross-border governance structures. The EGTC regulation and its dominant interpretation, say that EGTCs have tasks, not competences. However, the discussions that took place while negotiating the Aachen Treaty chapter about CBC, signed in 2019 between France and Germany – whose common border presents a number of EGTCs – have shown that different visions exist on the topic.
The chapter outlines the rationales underlying these visions, and their complementarity for the development of cross-border integration. It also explores how these visions replicate challenges and discussions about the European project itself. Some theoretical hypotheses on institutional vs functional approaches, based on literature about multi-level governance and pragmatic sociology, are presented and applied to the European context. The underlying influence of Saint Simon’s functional approach on French vision and policies, but also on personalism and integral federalism (in particular Denis de Rougemont), and therefore on discussions about the EU is explored.
The chapter describes the specific case of CBC and EGTCs as tools for its governance, and how the controversy about EGTCs’ tasks or competences has been reactivated by the negotiation of the Aachen Treaty. It assesses its relevance against the evidence of effective governance of cooperation and investigates the influence of Saint Simon and Rougemont on visions about CBC issues, in the light of the Covid crisis; and ends with some conclusions and recommendations for cross-border governance and the use of the EGTC tool.