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Cross-border Arrangements

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the proposed EU legal instrument for cross-border institutional arrangements. (75422)

The EU Commission has proposed a legal instrument, European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), to allow public bodies from different member states to create or join an EGTC with the objective of facilitating and promoting cross border, transnational and interregional co-operation in order to strengthen economic and social cohesion. No new powers are confirmed on public bodies by joining an EGTC and member states can withhold their approval of an EGTC if it considers it to be contrary to the public policy of the member state.

Other corporate and European structures can also facilitate such co-operation and the EGTC instrument would offer one more option for cross border co-operation to those arrangements that already exist. This may have operational benefits and can be welcomed. The institutions created under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the North South Cooperation (Implementation Bodies) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 already facilitate work across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The current Ireland/Northern Ireland PEACE and INTERREG IIIA programmes are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and these structures have performed well.