THE GECT, THIS STRANGER (1)

31.08.2019

The EGTC, or European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, is a financing instrument, whose preparatory work began back in 2009, with the first Romoli I Council; it was officially registered two years later, subject to amendment by the then government. It includes three neighbouring but cross-border municipalities, namely Gorizia, Nova Gorica and Šempreter-Vrtojba. They would form an area of economic cooperation, aimed at improving the living conditions of their citizens, mainly by attracting Community (n.b. European) funding. This reality is often mentioned, especially now, with the joint candidacy Gorizia - Nova Gorica as Capital of Culture 2025, which we will talk about later, while we talk about new possibilities for development and (perhaps) a further improvement of international relations between once very different and sometimes conflicting realities.

The EGTC is proposed as an instrument for cross-border territorial development, financed, as mentioned, mainly by European funds. To put it bluntly, the annual quota promoted by the respective municipalities is derisory compared to the funding provided by Community funds. These funds are granted by the European Commission through the ERDF - European Regional Development Fund, more specifically the European Territorial Cooperation Programme (European Regional Development Fund - European Territorial Cooperation), which, according to European indications, should guarantee an adequate development in different but inherent areas: "innovation and research, digital agenda, support to small and medium enterprises and green economy". We are pleased to see, however, that European funding for this type of project grows from legislature to legislature (European, of course), giving many more opportunities than in previous years; it is enough to know how to exploit them.

Unfortunately, it is well known, especially in Italy, that too many times these opportunities are neglected due to negligence, indifference or own inadequacy, where we mean too little or no mastery of the English language and above all a lack of knowledge of the complex European legislation, which so often regulates these calls for proposals. It must be added, and it must be admitted, that our Slovenian colleagues are much better at this, probably because of their limited territory. So if there was something to copy, this would be one of those things. At the moment, the strategic plans of the EGTC revolve around three pillars: the development of common green areas in terms of tourism, the development of cross-border mobility and the sharing of health services. They are divided into ITI (Integrated Territorial Investment) and non-ITI projects. The so-called ITI is a long-term strategy, whereas the so-called "normal" projects cannot, at least officially, be categorised in this way. The difference is that the former manage to attract more funding than the "normal" ones, without "ITI" status. To put it bluntly, ITI projects have raised more than €10 million (85% of which from European revenues). Let's remember that this money does not only go to the city of Gorizia, but it is divided between the three neighbouring municipalities and finances projects aimed at creating wealth for the community. This is absolutely the main road, a road, alas, not always undertaken by the Italian State, but let's leave that out.

To recapitulate, this famous, but always a bit mysterious EGTC, is in practice, another organization, with specific personnel, which in fact, plays a similar role to the Gorizia Fund; even if in another form and we say so, based on the impressions we had surfing on the official page, much more accessible and consequently transparent. Hopefully, however, we will go deeper into this financial mechanism and in a few days, with another article.

Martin Novak