The Junta de Andalucia yesterday formalised its participation in the proposed European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, an EU structure that will be used to identify opportunities for cross-border cooperation with Gibraltar.
The creation of the EGTC has been championed by the Cross-Frontier Group and has the support of La Linea’s city council and the Gibraltar Government, as well as other municipalities in the Campo de Gibraltar.
The Junta’s vice president, Manuel Jiménez Barrios, met La Linea mayor Juan Franco and representatives of the Cross-Frontier Group yesterday to announce the latest developments.
It follows an earlier commitment by Junta president Susana Diaz, who vowed to back the initiative after meeting Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in Seville last January.
The meeting yesterday discussed draft statues for the EGTC which, once approved, must be presented to the EU as the final step towards constituting the grouping as a stand-alone cross-border legal entity.
“The development of the EGTC will create for the first time a space for cooperation between entities on both sides of the border, allowing an opportunity for shared projects including the possibility of accessing EU funding,” a spokesman for La Linea’s city council said.
The Junta will finance the initial stages of the EGTC’s creation with up to 30,000 euros.
Mr Jiménez Barrios highlighted Brexit uncertainty, La Linea’s economic reliance on Gibraltar and more than 9,000 cross-border workers as some of the reasons why the EGTC was an important development.
Juan Franco said the focus of the EGTC should be on La Linea as the Campo municipality most affected by Brexit, as well as Gibraltar itself and the Junta as the regional administration.
He said the EGTC should avoid “strange bodies with other interests”, a clear reference to the Mancomunidad de Municipios which has also expressed interest in the initiative but which Mr Franco fears would detract attention from where it is most needed.
Reacting to this, Mr Jimenez Barrios urged caution from Campo politicians and highlighted the political, social and economic importance of the EGTC.
The draft statutes of cooperation currently envisage the participation of La Linea’s city council, groups representing cross-border workers and businesses, and the Junta itself.
The EGTC is a European legal instrument designed to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.
The EGTC is a legal entity and enables regional and local authorities and other public bodies from different member states to set up cooperation groupings with a legal personality.
The EGTC is unique in the sense that it enables public authorities of various EU member states to team up and deliver joint services, without requiring a prior international agreement to be signed and ratified by national parliaments.