The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC): Towards a Supraregional Scale of Governance in the Greater Region SaarLorLux?
All over Europe, EGTCs (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) are mushrooming. Between 2006, when the EU regulation entered into force, and 2014, 51 EGTCs have been established. Conceived as a legal tool to facilitate cross-border, interregional or transnational cooperation, the EGTC was established after years of lobbying from cross-border organisations.
Apart from practical guidelines mostly dedicated to the legal possibilities and limitations of this tool, few academic studies examine the significance of this tool for cross-border governance as such. This paper develops such a perspective, using the case study of the Greater Region SaarLorLux, (Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Wallonia), where two existing EGTCs are operating. The EGTC INTERREG IV A Greater Region is the only EGTC managing an EU programme; the EGTC Secretariat of the Summit supports the main political organisation in this area. This contribution argues that the EGTC tool can facilitate the emergence of a supraregional scale of governance.
This paper examines how this instrument allows the institutionalisation of a cross-border entity in terms of its capacity to embody and perpetuate the cross-border region, and to implement its strategy. It then applies this conceptualisation to the specific context of the Greater Region. The empirical analysis shows that although the two EGTCs institutionalise the cooperation, they are rather conceived as administrative and operational tools. The paper concludes with possible explanations of such a mismatch between the potential of this tool and the effective use of it.