The management and organisation of cross-border transportation services through the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC): from theory to practice

  • The management and organisation of cross-border transportation services through the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC): from theory to practice

    Author: Dr. Simone Carrea

    Key words: international cooperation, EGTC, financing, management of cross-border infrastructures, public-private partnership

    Regulation EC 1082/2006 introduced the possibility for States, regional and local authorities to establish a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), an entity provided with legal personality and legal capacity, whose objective is to facilitate and promote territorial cooperation between its members with the aim of strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion.
    The breadth of the tasks which can be entrusted to EGTCs, the openness of membership also to private law undertakings (recently introduced by regulation EU 1302/2013, which amended regulation EC 1082/2006) and the enhanced possibility of receiving support from both European and national funds make the new legal instrument especially appealing for the establishment of cooperation schemes in the area of transportation.
    Indeed, several EGTCs have already been (or are about to be) set up with a view to organising and improving transportation across the territory of the partners involved. In this regard reference can be made, for instance, to (a) the EGTC Central European Transport Corridor (CETC), which has been established for the purpose of facilitating and promoting transport accessibility along the length of the North-South axis of multimodal transport from the Baltic to the Adriatic Seas and possibly along the potential branch of the corridor towards the Black Sea, enhancing the compatibility of the transport infrastructures among the regions involved, ensuring support and improving conditions for the development of intermodal transport connections, thus spreading environmentally friendly solutions, as well as initiating works and carrying out preliminary feasibility studies of the CETC – ROUTE 65 Corridor; (b) the EGTC Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, established with a view to improving transportation services along the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, between Amsterdam and Genoa; (c) the project of EGTC Inforailmed which aims at improving railway transportation services in the cross-border area covering the territory of the Italian region Liguria, the French region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and the Principality of Monaco, where national borders cannot presently be crossed without intermediate reloading because of lack of coordination and lack of interoperability of railways on the different sides of the borders.
    In the light of the above, the present paper aims at assessing the relevance of the EGTC for the management and organisation of cross-border transportation as well as for the governance of transport infrastructures both in the territory of the European Union and of potentially interested third States. In this view, the purpose of the present analysis is two-fold in so far as it consists of (a) a theoretical legal analysis of the main features of the new instrument which make it particularly suitable for the management and organisation of cross-border transportation, as well as (b) a detailed case study of the above mentioned recently established EGTC Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor.
    As far as the first part is concerned, the paper will focus on the exam of the provisions of regulation EC 1082/2006 which appear to be most significant for the purpose of organising and managing cross-border transportation services, such as (i) the (recent) openness of membership of EGTCs also to private undertakings entrusted with operation of services of general economic interest (art. 3, par. 1, e, introduced by regulation EC 1302/2013), which renders the instrument at issue particularly suitable for the establishment of public-private partnerships in the area of transportation; (ii) the possible accession of members from third countries or overseas countries or territories (art. 3a), which widens the territorial scope of the cooperation that can be established through the instrument at issue; (iii) the opportunity to finance EGTCs’ activities by means of the EU and/or national funds; (iv) the comprehensiveness of the tasks which can be entrusted to EGTCs, which only have to fall within the competence of its members under their national law; (v) the possibility to assign to EGTCs the management of transport infrastructures, including the competence to define the terms and conditions of its use as well as the tariffs and fees to be paid by the users (art. 7, par. 4); (vi) the power of EGTCs to award public contracts under EU directive 2014/24/EU (art. 39), which enhances the capacity of the new legal instrument of efficiently organising transportation services in a cross-border area, e.g. by acquiring interoperable devices compatible with the (potentially) different legal standards in force in the territories of the States involved in the cooperation.
    On the basis of such theoretical and preliminary introduction, the second part of the paper will then focus on the case study of the EGTC Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor EGTC, which – as said above – has been established in order to facilitate and promote the territorial cooperation among its members and to jointly strengthen and coordinate the territorial and integrated development of the multimodal Rhine-Alpine Corridor (between Amsterdam and Genoa) both from the regional and local perspective. To this end the EGTC is supposed to foster a joint development strategy for the multimodal Rhine-Alpine Corridor, direct funds to corridor related activities and projects, provide a central platform for mutual information, exchange best practices, improve the visibility and promotion of the corridor. Furthermore, the analysis of the members of the EGTC at issue clearly illustrates the ability of the new instrument to involve all of the different actors engaged in the governance of transport-related issues of the cross-border area, such as port authorities (e.g. Port of Rotterdam, Port of Antwerp), local authorities (e.g. Stadt Mannheim), regional authorities (e.g. Regione Piemonte), other public entities (e.g. Regionalverband Mittlerer Oberrhein, Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar) and private entities (e.g. Uniontrasporti, Duisport-Gruppe).
    In conclusion, the combination of the two sections above described will show, both from a legal and practical point of view, that the EGTC is a particularly suitable legal instrument for the management and improvement of cross-border transportation services, not only because of its versatility (as far as both its potential tasks and territorial scope are concerned) but also because of its capacity of involving all of the different actors (both public and private) concerned by the management of the interested cross-border area.