The European legal personality in the form of an EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) has brought great added value for the member states of the European Union and thus also for their regions. It provides a legal and institutional framework for cooperation across state borders and cross-border projects can thus be better coordinated. The number of EGTCs shows that the legal instrument is indeed used in practice. Currently (as of 31 March 2021) there are 79 EGTCs in Europe (updated list of the EGTC register). The EGTC European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino was registered in the European EGTC register on 13 September 2011 as 21st European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation.
The European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino cooperates closely with individual EGTCs, such as the EGTC Euregio Senza Confini. One example of cooperation is the Fit4Co project - an initiative funded by the Interreg programme Italy-Austria - which involves both EGTCs.
In the field of cross-border cooperation, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is responsible for providing advisory and political support. Once a year, the so-called EGTC Platform of the Committee of the Regions meets with the participation of all EGTCs at European level to exchange information on progress and developments and to improve communication among the EGTCs. In 2021 - on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the EGTC European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino - the EGTC Platform Meeting will take place in Innsbruck from 30 September to 1 October.
The European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino also works closely with CLLD areas. CLLD stands for community-led local development - an approach in which local decision-makers decide on the use of European funding, according to the principle that local matters are best addressed locally. In the INTERREG Italy-Austria programme area, the CLLD approach is applied on a cross border basis, a stand alone feature in the EU. The EGTC supports this grassroots democratic approach, and the CLLD regions benefit from the intensive cooperation through the exchange of know-how. For example, the CLLD regions have drawn up their cross-border development strategies in consultation with the Euregio, as laid out in the Euregio strategy on cooperation with CLLD areas.
Generally speaking, territorial cooperation has a long tradition in the Alpine Space and has become much more important since the end of the Second World War. Thus, the willingness of administrations to cooperate on a cross-border basis has grown significantly over the decades.
The Working Community of the Alpine Countries (ARGE ALP) was founded in 1972. Today, ten countries, regions and cantons of Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland belong to it. Tyrol as well as South Tyrol and Trentino are members of ARGE ALP. When it was founded, ARGE ALP pioneered regional cross-border cooperation, as cross-border cooperation had previously been the sole responsibility of national governments.
With the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP), the Alpine area gained further importance and influence in the Union in 2006. The EUSALP encompasses the seven Alpine countries Austria, France, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and 48 regions of these mentioned states with a total of more than 80 million inhabitants in the Alpine region. The regions play a particularly important role within the framework of EUSALP. The EUSALP Strategy offers the opportunity to address the specific challenges of the Alpine area and to develop sustainable solutions for the Alpine regions.
Cross-border cooperation has gained in importance over the last few decades, which may also be due to the fact that more than one third of EU citizens live and work in a border region. In this context, borders have a direct and indirect impact on the lives of the individuals concerned. Territorial cooperation, as it is practised in the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, plays an important role in removing barriers at the borders and in promoting cross-border cooperation.