Ref. :  000028580
Date :  2008-01-14
Language :  English
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Launch of EGTC expert group: Slovenian Presidency and Committee of the Regions highlight territorial cooperation at Brdo conference, 17 January 2008

The Slovenian Presidency of the EU and the Committee of the Regions will host the first conference of experts on the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) at Brdo Congress Centre (Slovenia) on 17 January. Organised at the invitation of Slovenia's Government Office for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy, the meeting aims to build political support for, and raise awareness of the EGTC, a new EU instrument created to facilitate the management of cross-border, transnational and regional projects such as economic development, environmental protection, mobility and healthcare services. The EGTC will also assist Member States and regions in delivering EU and national funding schemes.

The meeting will be opened by Marko Starman, State Secretary of the Slovenian Government Office for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy, and pay particular attention to cooperation in the Alpine region, the Mediterranean area, the Pannonian Plain and with the Western Balkans.

The Committee of the Regions, the consultative body which acts as the voice of local government in European decision-making, will be represented by its First Vice-President Luc Van den Brande and eight members of its Slovenian delegation, led by Irena Majcen, Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica. The European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy will also take part in the meeting.

The regulation establishing the EGTC, set up by the EU Council and European Parliament, came into force in July 2006. One of the objectives of the Brdo meeting is to encourage Member States to speed-up the approval of national provisions to enable stakeholders to use the instrument. So far, only five countries (UK, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal) have completed this process.

"This is an essential step for Europe. We live in a time of challenges: economic globalisation, demographic change, migration flows, climate change, energy. These challenges are taking shape more and more on a borderless basis. Instruments like the EGTC are invaluable and the EGTC expert group will provide guidance on the process," said Mr Van den Brande, a member of Belgium's Flanders Parliament.

On 18 January, the participants will visit Technology Park Ljubljana and GEOSS, Slovenia's national geometric centre, located in Spodnja Slivna pri Vačah, in Litija municipality, where they will receive a presentation on EU-funded regional development projects.

The meeting of the expert group in Brdo will lay the foundations for a major interinstitutional conference on the EGTC, organised by the CoR, Slovenian Presidency and the European Commission, to be held in Brussels on 19 June. The CoR will present its forthcoming own-initiative report entitled "The EGTC: new impetus to territorial cooperation in Europe", at this conference. The report's author is Mercedes Bresso, President of Regione Piemonte in Italy.

Click here for Brdo programme and more information about the EGTC.

EGTC expert group

The EGTC expert group is composed of representatives of 40 national and regional bodies from 23 countries. They provide a pool of expertise on the EGTC and a bridge between practitioners and institutions. The group will monitor the adoption and implementation of provisions at Member State level, facilitating the exchange of experiences on the establishment of EGTCs at regional level and sharing knowledge of best practice and also identifying the potential exploitation of EGTC as a tool for cohesive territorial development.
The Committee of the Regions

Around two-thirds of EU legislation is implemented by local and regional authorities in Member States. The Committee of the Regions is a consultative body, created in 1994 to give representatives of local government a say over the content of these laws. The CoR organises five plenary sessions a year, where its 344 members vote on reports, known as opinions, issued in response to proposed legislation. The European Commission, which initiates EU laws, and the Council of Ministers, which determines the final content of the legislation (usually in tandem with the European Parliament), are obliged to consult the CoR on a wide range of policy areas including the environment, employment and transport.

For more information, please contact:
- Dennis ABBOTT, +32 0)2 282 20 99, +32 (0)2 282 20 85, E-mail: Dennis Abbott
- Amélie COUSIN, +32 0)2 282 22 70, +32 (0)2 282 20 85, E-mail: Amélie Cousin

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