As indispensable structures for cross-border cooperation, more and more Euroregions are being set up in Europe. But what is a Euroregion?
A Euroregion is a cross-border territorial entity that brings together partners from two or more cross-border regions1 in different European countries. Their purpose is to create a coherent space that is developed collectively to ensure that the border is no longer an obstacle but becomes a resource and an opportunity for development. To do this, it creates a framework for cooperation that makes it possible to bring together the different players and to put in place common policies and projects in areas such as regional development, transport, the local economy, cultural activities, the environment and so on, always in accordance with the specific features of each border area.
The German-Dutch border was a pioneer in setting up the first Euroregion. In 1958, Euregio was created and brought together five border regions.
Since then, there has been a proliferation of Euroregions notably thanks to the Council of Europe and the European Union which have worked to promote them:
- At the level of the Council of Europe: setting in place of a legal framework tailored to the Euroregions via the Madrid Outline Convention and its additional protocols, including the third protocol, which came into force on 1 March 2013 in four countries and which provides for the creation of “Euroregional Cooperation Groupings” (ECG).
- At the level of the European Union2: financial support for projects via the Interreg programmes; the possibility of creating appropriate legal structures in the form of “European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation”.
The concept of the Euroregion covers different types of partnerships between regions and border territories which are more or less structured and which, in some cases, have a permanent secretariat. The legal structures used vary from one border to another depending on how long the cooperation has been in place and on the existing legal framework: some Euroregions are steered by associations or foundations while others have opted for the form of a EGTC; the majority of Euroregional partnerships have been formalised by an agreement between the member regions and territories.
Today, the Euroregions are a symbol of the new strategies that aim to foster the development of cross-border territories which have long suffered from a lack of investment because of being regarded as “peripheral” and which consider themselves to be laboratories for territorial cohesion and European integration.
The term region, used here generically, designates a territorial entity that is smaller than a country (see "Committee of the Regions"). It can refer to various levels (NUTS 2, 3, etc.) and have different statuses (local or regional authorities, administrative entities, etc.).
Recognition by the Treaty of "cross-border regions" (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Article 174).