In view of the difficulties encountered by the Member States in carrying out and managing cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, the new legislative framework [see section 12.1.2], provides for the creation of a European-level cooperation instrument allowing the creation of cooperative groupings with their own legal personality, called “European groupings of territorial cooperation” (EGTC) [Regulation 1082/2006, last amended by Regulation 1302/2013]. An EGTC is an optional cooperation instrument at European level.
The objective of an EGTC should be to facilitate and promote, in particular, territorial cooperation, including one or more of the cross-border, transnational and interregional strands of cooperation, between its members, with the aim of strengthening Union economic, social and territorial cohesion. An EGTC may be made up of members belonging to one or more of the following categories: (a) Member States or authorities at national level; (b) regional authorities; (c) local authorities; (d) public undertakings or bodies governed by public law within the meaning of Directive 2004/18 [ replaced by Directive 2014/24]; (e) undertakings entrusted with operations of services of general economic interest in compliance with applicable Union and national law; and (f) national, regional or local authorities, or bodies or public undertakings from third countries, subject to certain conditions. The establishment of an EGTC is a matter to be decided by its members and their national authorities, and is not automatically linked with any legal or financial advantages at Union level. An EGTC may act on behalf of its members, and notably the regional and local authorities of which it is composed.
EGTCs can have the potential to enhance the promotion and achievement of the harmonious development of the Union as a whole and the economic, social and territorial cohesion of its regions, in particular, and to contribute to meeting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. EGTCs can also contribute positively to reducing barriers to territorial cooperation between regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, including the specific situation of outermost regions, and can be instrumental in strengthening the cooperation between third countries, overseas countries and territories ("OCTs") and Union border regions, including through the use of Union external cooperation programmes.
As a legal instrument, EGTCs are also being used for cooperation in the context of Union policies other than Cohesion Policy, including by implementing programmes or parts of programmes with Union financial support other than that under Cohesion Policy.
In order to strengthen the Union's economic, social and territorial cohesion and therefore to reinforce, in particular, the effectiveness of territorial cooperation, including one or more of the cross-border, transnational and interregional strands of cooperation, between members of an EGTC, the participation of third countries neighbouring a Member State, including its outermost regions, should be allowed in an EGTC. Operations under European territorial cooperation programmes, where co-financed by the Union, should therefore continue to pursue Union Cohesion Policy objectives, even if they are implemented, partly or in their entirety, outside the territory of the Union, and, as a consequence, the activities of an EGTC are also carried out at least to some extent outside the territory of the Union.
An EGTC should carry out the tasks given to it by its members in accordance with Regulation 1082/2006. Its tasks are defined by the convention agreed by its members, but should be limited to the facilitation and promotion of territorial cooperation to strengthen economic and social cohesion. Specifically, the tasks of an EGTC should be limited primarily to the implementation of territorial cooperation programmes or projects co-financed by the Union through the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and/or the Cohesion Fund. However, an EGTC may carry out actions of territorial cooperation which are at the sole initiative of the Member States and their regional and local authorities with or without a financial contribution from the Union.
A directive aims at the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures, essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions in at least two Member States, and the assessment of the need to improve their protection, primarily against the threat of terrorism, but also against man-made and natural disasters [Directive 2008/114].