Arc Manche: The thin end of the wedge

Some time ago I wrote a couple of blogs dealing with the trans-national Arc Manche region, which takes in both Kent and the Pas de Calais.

One or two comments on my blog suggested that I was making a mountain out of a molehill.  This was just an example of simple voluntary international cooperation — what could be more harmless?  Jonathan wrote: “Roger, do you honestly believe that if the EU were not to exist, English local authorities, French regions, Dutch provinces, (Norwegian municipalities?) etc would not wish to talk with each other? Yes, of course they would!”.

I put a written question to the Commission.  In their reply, they sneered at the Euroscepticism of the British press, and assured me that the Arc Manche (and the EU’s other transnational regions) were merely voluntary arrangements between local authorities in their respective countries, with the objective of sharing best practice, establishing fraternal ties, and organising cultural exchanges.  Nothing sinister, nothing far-reaching.  Certainly no attempt to remove the nation-state from its rightful position as primary interlocutor for its citizens.  Oh No.

“The Commission notes that this is not the first time that the British press publishes this kind of misleading information. The “cross-channel entity Arc-Manche”, mentioned by the Honourable Member, is, in fact, an organisation called Arc Manche Assembly set up at the initiative of local authorities and regions from both sides of the Channel with the aim of developing and reinforcing Franco-British cooperation by delivering joint actions and projects”.

But today the ECR Group in Brussels held one of its regular group meetings ahead of votes tomorrow, and we considered the various legislative and other packages which are scheduled.  One of them is the Pieper Report: 5th Cohesion Report and strategy for post-2013 Cohesion Policy.  The Pieper report was supported by several own-initiative reports, including Mikolasik: Implementation of cohesion programmes 2007/2013; Vlasak: European Urban Agenda and its future in cohesion policy; Sanchez-Schmidt: Objective 3, future agenda for cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation; and Stavrakakis, Increased effectiveness between ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and other structural funds.

(This is the kind of fun stuff we deal with on a daily basis).

And the point of the Pieper report?  To establish that EGCTs (European Groupings of Common Territories) assume responsibility for the disbursement of ERDF and other EU funding streams.

So much for cultural exchanges and voluntary cooperation.  When bureaucratic structures, with logos, councils and Presidents, are put in place, and given responsibility for disbursing funds, we are dealing with new governmental structures within the new Nation of Europe.  And those structures  are deliberately transnational, and deliberately bypassing national governments.

Again and again we see the EU undertaking small steps, that it can describe as insignificant.  But they all lead the same way: to a Europe of regions governed from Brussels.

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9 Responses to Arc Manche: The thin end of the wedge

  1. swbk2345 says:

    Hopefully, the whole damned project would have come crashing down by then!

  2. Jonathan Ward says:

    As it is not UK, or other nation states’ money in the format that it is delivered (I know it is from the pot of what countries give to the EU), is not unreasonable that a supra-national body has a supra-national approach into giving money that reflects areas that transcend borders? There are certain border areas where this may alleviate problems.

    • If we have to be in the EU, then budgets must be agreed between Brussels and members states (with democratically elected governments). These new cross-border institutions lack any kind of legitmacy, and are clearly designed to undermine national boundaries and identities.

  3. scottspeig says:

    Its a disgrace and the UK Parliament should remove the co-operation. Indeed, as the commission has stated, it is voluntary.

  4. Heather Alibakir says:

    I have lived with the French for 11 years, I am married to a Frenchman but………I despair of this sort of thing:will somebody please pull up the drawbridge.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Firstly, it is EGTC, not EGCT….

    Second, it stands for “European grouping of territorial cooperation” and not, “European Groupings of Common Territories” – there is very important difference!

    Third, the regulations on EGTCs have existed since before the current programming period in 2006, this is not new.

    Four, what the Pieper Report suggested, was that regions, local authorities and other sub-national organisations, might wish to work together via the mechanisms allowed under the EGTC Regulations (Google: EC1082/2006) to assist in creating the seven year operational programmes for regional development 2014-2020.

    If you wish to read the report directly, you can find it here:

    Fifth, I’d be interested to know which funding streams the Pieper suggested that the EGTC distrubuted?? I do not know of any!

    Six, and without rehearsing the old arguments, what is wrong with democratically locally elected politicians sitting down together across local and national borders, identifying common concerns and opportunities, helping with the writing of an EU operational programme, and then receiving money to implment that plan?

    If its broadband infrastructure, transport connections, healthcare, environmental issues, localised migratory movements etc… these issues need to be dealt with cross-border. It might be best to do that within a nation, but in some cases, going across borders works better.

    Finally, sometimes central government does not always represent the best interests of its regions and local authorities – I think it is entirely fair and right that local areas work together to defend and advance their interests.

    • As I mentioned, Jonathan, there are several reports in the package. This from the Sanchez Schmidt Report:

      35. Considers that EGTCs represent a unique, highly valuable territorial governance instrument which meets a need for structured cooperation with reference to financing, the legal status of projects and multi-level governance; recalls that the instrument of EGTC must be promoted as a tool to set up systems of cross-border governance

      39. Calls for the allocation of global grants to EGTCs with projects that reflect the objectives and strategies of the relevant cooperation programmes, on the basis of common cross-border development strategies, in order to enable them to directly manage Structural Fund appropriations, and programmes.

      There you have it, Jonathan. A tool to set up cross-border governance …. to enable them to directly manage Structural Fund appropriations.

  6. Pingback: Gleanings | Calling England

  7. Ade says:

    Didn’t we have an Army once t stop this sort of Treason.
    Kick the Bloody doors in Generals, I’m sure you’d have plenty of support.

    What happened to all enemies foreign or domestic.

    Where are Britain’s Oathkeepers?

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