The EGTC as a tool for cross-border multi-level governance: the case of EGTC GO
The EGTC GO represents an instrument to unlock cross-border potential for innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable growth. It promotes innovation in local governance through a supra-regional method to solve cross-border challenges - administrative and legal burdens – in order to provide concrete solutions for its territory and citizens. Flagship cooperation projects on Health, Culture and Social Innovation are key examples of the innovative added-value of the EGTC GO.
The EGTC allows public entities of different EU Member States to get together under a new entity. It was launched by the EU Regulation (EC) 1082/2006 and is the first European cooperation structure with a legal personality defined by European Law designed to facilitate and promote territorial cooperation in view of strengthening the economic and social cohesion of the European territory.
The three municipalities of Gorizia, Nova Gorica and Šempeter-Vrtojba decided in 2011 to seize this opportunity and kick started an innovative structural cooperation to overcome historical frictions and to address common challenges by creating the EGTC GO.
1. EGTC GO as an instrument for innovation in cross-border governance
In the same way the EU is considered a supranational entity, the EGTC GO can be considered as a supraregional/supramunicipality entity. The EGTC GO has the ambition to become a supraregional institutional framework to implement a bottom-up, civil society and citizen-driven euroregional policy and to provide concrete solution to the daily lives of its citizens. It is a tool to boost cross-border multi-level governance, building on common structure and strategies.
In this context, the EGTC GO combines three innovative elements:
- an institutional and political framework to develop cooperation through partnerships, multi-level and bottom-up urban agendas, spatial planning and smart specialisation strategies for research and innovation.
- a cross-border public services coordinator and a potential future provider of cross-border public goods i.e. supporting cross-border public services that - according to the principle of subsidiary - are more effective if managed at a supra-municipality level.
- as an implementing body of EU Integrated Territorial Investment for the benefit of the region, that has managed to attract more than €10m of EU funds and has successfully implemented other EU and regional projects.
The EGTC GO uses cross-boundary collaboration and new methods such as collaborative thinking, agile working methods and innovative legal solutions in order to help the municipalities deliver services. Digital technologies play an important role in the collaboration and the ‘co-creation' of innovations.
A key example is the realisation of the touristic infrastructures envisaged by the EU project Isonzo- Soča. The EGTC GO will be able to decide whether to apply Slovenian or Italian legislation with the applicable law for contracts and will facilitate the project through an innovative IT system for cross-border public procurement. The municipal councils of the three municipalities approved an act by which they delegate the assembly of the EGTC GO to decide which legislation to apply. This is the first resolution adopted by all three municipal councils, which lays the foundations for a unified methodology for territorial planning in the three cities.
2. Innovation in health and social cross-border services
The EGTC GO coordinates the EU-funded project “Construction of a network of cross-border health services” that aims at improving the use and the performance of social-health services within the cross-border territory of the EGTC GO through the integration of the services and health facilities involved in the project.
The project includes the establishment of three cross-border medical teams in the field of mental health, autism and physiological pregnancy, and the creation of a single centre for the booking of social and health services shared by Italian and Slovenian health facilities. The project also includes some solutions for the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in order to integrate social assistance services.
3. Nova Gorica and Gorizia: European Capital of Culture 2025 - Co-creation to help the cultural and creative industries
Nova Gorica and Gorizia will be named the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2025. The city of Nova Gorica's candidacy for the ECoC 2025 was the result of its cross-border cooperation with neighbouring Gorizia. The city of Nova Gorica has announced that in 2025, it is planning more than 600 cultural events and more than 60 projects with different partners. Within the framework of the project, the city is bringing together 251 partners from Slovenia and 34 other countries, and will contribute to the development of its cultural and creative industries.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The EGTC GO is an innovative tool designed to overcome the difficulties encountered in implementing and managing policy, programmes and projects in the field of territorial cooperation, which are subject to different legislation and procedures, and to facilitate the delivery of cross-border public goods. The participating municipalities are legally organized in an independent cross-border body and can directly interact with European institutions or third parties.
The innovation's added value lies in its ability to strategically coordinate and implement the policies relating to the metropolitan area, for example:
• implementation and modernization of tourist and health infrastructure, systems and services by implementing two EU flagship projects
• joint planning of local transport policies, also via the joint management of a cross-border bike sharing system
• joint planning of the cross-border public space
What is the current status of your innovation?
Concrete results require, first and foremost, the joint planning and execution of projects. Before the establishment of the EGTC GO, public authorities did not have a legal instrument that would allow them to overcome the administrative barriers between the different countries. The Municipality of Gorizia was only able to operate on its own territory and the municipalities of Nova Gorica and Šempeter-Vrtojba, likewise, were not allowed to act outside their administrative borders.
An EGTC is currently the only EU legal instrument offering the following possibilities:
• shaping a shared strategy of urban development;
• cross-border governance through an Assembly of representatives of the three cities;
• capitalizing the outcomes of past cooperation and preserving continuity;
• operating across the entire cross-border area regardless of municipal borders
• implementation of an Integrated Territorial Investment in the cross-border region
Collaborations & Partnerships
Institutional level: Ministries, regional authorities, the three municipalities
Technical level: EGTC GO technical committees (transport, energy, culture, sport)
Citizens level: Citizens of the cross-border area, civil society and NGOs
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Institutional stakeholders: EU, national, regional local
Civil Society: NGOs
SMES and economic actors
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Key results and outcomes:
1) Cross border governance: regular meetings of the EGTC Assembly setting the strategic guidelines
2) Cross border Joint Secretariat with dedicated staff
3) Technical Committees: regular meetings with concrete project proposals
4) Implementation of two flagships projects: ITI Integrated Territorial Investment
5) Capital of Culture in 2025 Nova Gorica and Gorizia with the cooperation of the EGTC
6) Participation in other EU projects and activities (b-solution and Interreg Europe)
7) Promotion of cross-border services:
• Health services; cross-border agreement and training courses for workers on mental health issues; training courses, medical protocol for the treatment of autistic children and adaptation of rooms in Gorizia for the operation of integrated teams; cross border pregnancy and social inclusion: training event, three thematic workshops and the construction of an info-point in Gorizia
• Touristic routes and a cross-border bridge
Challenges and Failures
• Overcoming historical differences and frictions
• Dealing with the radical changes brought about by the pandemic crisis
• Operating in a territory where industrialisation is limited and the EU Regional Competitiveness Index is medium
• Italy and Slovenia have different administrative and legal culture: significant obstacles linked to fragmentation and sustainability of research and innovation infrastructure and frequent difficulties in building institutional and legal environments conducive to innovation
• Supporting cross-border employment and social inclusion
• Promoting border multi-lingualism
• Facilitating cross-border accessibility
• Greater pooling of health care facilities
• Specific attention with regards to human capital, skills development and a more inclusive innovation process
Conditions for Success
Main conditions for success:
1) Political will from the three municipalities and leadership open to cooperation
2) Clear legal and administrative frameworks – also in line with the EU's Better Regulation package
3) Effective use of available EU mechanisms and tools – blending different instruments and funds
4) A permanent secretariat with long term objectives
5) Spreading excellence and widening participation
6) Cross-border regional adaptation and resilience to ongoing radical changes
7) Further reform of research and innovation systems
8) Scaling up ideas from project level to implementation into the market
9) Territorial inter-modal links with the major EU corridors
The project could represent a practical example for the implementation of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality at the cross-border region. It is also the first EGTC to implement an EU Integrated Territorial Investment project meaning that other EGTCs can learn from its experience.
1) Importance of ownership – the EGTG Assembly is composed of representatives from the three municipalities
2) Cross border support in words and action - Show the concrete results, not only strategies and joint planning but also concrete projects and infrastructures that impact the every day lives of the citizens
3) Provide legal practical solutions accepted by all the actors involved
4) Boosting the innovation and competitiveness potential of European regions as a basis for a sustainable growth model
5) Importance of building evidence of cross-border interaction to inform decision-making – collecting data that are comparable and effectively shared across the border.
The 2014-2020 Interreg V-A Italy-Slovenia Cross-border Cooperation Programme has allocated 10 million euros to EGTC GO for two pilot actions aimed at promoting a joint and integrated development of the cross-border area shared by Gorizia, Nova Gorica and Šempeter-Vrtojba. The two projects, Isonzo-Soča and Salute-Zdravstvo, rely on a mechanism called Integrated Territorial Investments (ITIs). ITIs are a territorial development tool introduced by the EU legal framework. The tool allows organisations to implement strategies in an integrated way by combining financial resources and drawing from at least two priority axes from the same or different EU Operational Programmes. The purpose of the tool is to produce long-term strategies for tackling social and economic challenges.