On 21 May, 2018, the Kvarken Council’s AGM took the historical decision to transform the Council from being a registered association into an EGTC, European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation. The EGTC is a European legal instrument for crossborder cooperation.
The EGTC is a powerful and clear instrument which is specifically designed for crossborder cooperation in Europe. At present, there are approx. 55 EGTCs and many new ones are being established. In the Nordic countries, however, there are no EGTCs, with the exception of the Swedish Region Skåne which is a member of the Central European Transport Corridor EGTC. Consequently, the Kvarken Council would be the first fully Nordic EGTC.
The Kvarken Council’s Board serves as the working committee for the EGTC process and the Council’s office has, as commissioned by the Board, started work to transform the legal form of the Council from a registered association into an EGTC. The office is negotiating with taxation authorities in Finland regarding the application of Finnish taxation law in the regions included in the EGTC with its headquarters in Finland, and has also written to the appropriate authorities, viz. the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation in Sweden and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, to inform them about the establishment process. Further, the office has started adjusting the Council’s present Articles of Association to fit the EGTC and drafting the membership categories and fees for the new organisation.
In the course of this EGTC process, the Kvarken Council’s tasks will be analysed, based on the members’ requirements and wishes, and various models for the Council’s future work will be examined, e.g. in the form of committees. Further, the office studies how the municipalities in the Kvarken region could be involved in the crossborder cooperation more efficiently. The new organisation also opens up the possibility to include members from Norway in the future. Mr. Olav Jern, Honorary regional mayor, has provided the office with a lot of help in this work.
The Kvarken Council’s Board and office meet up regularly to discuss topical issues and to advance the EGTC process. Further, a first information event has been held with the organisations which were chosen as observers for the EGTC process, viz. MidtSkandia crossborder committee and Blå Vägen association. The other Nordic crossborder committees and the Kvarken Council’s other cooperation partners also follow the process with keen interest. The Kvarken Council’s office informs continually about the progress, e.g. in the Council’s newsletter.
The proposal for new Statutes for the Kvarken Council EGTC is planned to be ready in November and the present ja potential new members will be informed about the different aspects of an EGTC membership in January 2019. The ambition is that the Kvarken Council’s AGM will, in May 2019, be able to take the decision to establish the Kvarken Council EGTC.
As an EGTC, the Kvarken Council will carry more weight to coordinate the development in the region and to advance, together, issues of regional importance at the national, Nordic and European Union levels. Establishment as an EGTC will improve the visibility and impact of the Kvarken region’s important crossborder cooperation on the regional, national, Nordic and European Union levels.
EGTC – European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation;
EAYY – Eurooppalaisen alueellisen yhteistyön yhtymä
EGTS – Europeisk gruppering för territoriellt samarbete
The EGTC has been an official legal instrument since 2006 when the EU accepted a regulation concerning it. There had been several attempts before this to find suitable forms for organised cooperation between cities or regions within the EU. Since 2008, some fifty EGTCs have been established.
The objective of an EGTC is to offer a form of collaboration that allows cross-border cooperation between Member States and abides by the laws of the country in which the official EGTC headquarters are located. An EGTC is a legal entity, which offers strong operational capability and the possibility to make decisions.
An EGTC may consist of regional and local authorities, but also national governments. The parties involved enter into an agreement on setting the work in motion and compile rules for regulating and facilitating the work.
Other partners from countries outside the EU can be incorporated in the collaboration, but this requires a separate cooperation agreement with the country in question and the EU Member States involved.
Kvarken Council – Cross-Border Cooperation
The operating area of the Kvarken Council is called the Kvarken region. The Kvarken Region consists of the counties of Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia in Finland and the county of Västerbotten and the municipality of Örnsköldsvik in Sweden.
The Kvarken Council is developing the region by supporting the cooperation between various actors in the Kvarken region, reducing and eliminating border barriers, increasing the visibility of the region at national and European levels, working actively in several European networks and by utilising the region’s strengths and supporting the development of the region.
The Kvarken Council has worked with over 100 cross-border projects during almost 50 years within eg. business, education, tourism, research and development, health care, culture, environmental issues, sports, children and young people as well as communications and transport infrastructure. One of the region’s joint projects is the Midway Alignment infrastructure project.
The main members of the Kvarken Council are the Regional Councils of Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia, the cities of Vaasa, Seinäjoki, Kokkola and Pietarsaari – all in Finland – as well as the Västerbotten County Council and the city of Örnsköldsvik, both in Sweden. The operation is financed through membership fees and funding granted by the Nordic Council of Ministers.