Within the Ministry of the Presidency, the Directorate General of Relations with the Autonomous Communities and Local Entities is charged with promoting multilateral cooperation and collaboration between different Administrations, supervising the participation of the Autonomous Communities and Local Entities in European and international matters and cross-border cooperation. The Subdirectorate General for European and International Relations depends on the above mentioned Directorate and is responsible for all functions regarding cross-border cooperation, among others.
The Subdirectorate General for European and International Relations is an administrative organ within the State, dependant on the Ministry of the Presidency and for the Territorial Administrations. In the approval procedure, other public authorities participate (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Ministry of Finances, Regional authorities when Municipalities are involved…). In the Commission that monitors the Valencia Treaty, regional authorities (Autonomous Communities) do participate. In other bilateral or multilateral meetings, regional participation is not always required.
Within the Council of Europe’s framework, the first cross-border cooperation agreement was approved in 1991. Since then, at least one new agreement has been approved every year. For agreements involving Spanish and Portuguese territorial entities, the Treaty of Valencia applies (2002). The Treaty of Bayonne (1995) applies to agreements between Spain and France. Within the EU framework, the first EGTC was created between Spain and Portugal in 2008. It has been a very successful institution. Most of the EGTC participated by Spanish authorities are bilateral (with French or Portuguese territorial authorities) but some of them are multilateral, with other countries involved.
- Ministry of the Presidency and for the Territorial Administrations
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Good Practices in identifying and removing Obstacles
1. Intergovernmental agreements on transfrontier cooperation pursuant Madrid Convention.
2. Establishment of joing cooperation agencies on specific issues.
3. Since EGTCs were regulated within the European Union, many regional and local authorities have chosen that legal instrument for cross-border cooperation decreasing the creation of bodies or subscription of agreements under the CoE legal framework.
Good Practices in identifying Cross-border territory as a spatial unit
Several CBC structures were established for institutionalisation of dialogue and the development of joint decisions and strategies.
Reasons for Obstacle Persistence
1. Differences in administrative cultures.
2. Differences in regulation, especially with regard to the labour market and tax regulations.
3. Lack of expertise of local and regional actors as to the possibilities of cross-border cooperation.
Obstacles to be removed by Unilateral Actions (State/Regional)
1. Ensuring fiscal harmonisation.
2. The General State Administration has simplified procedures by developing them through electronic means. Through a Government website (https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/procedimientos/index/categoria/45) regional and local entities can request their integration in an existing EGTC or demand the creation of a new EGTC. They can also communicate the celebration of cross-border conventions for the Ministry of the Presidency to deliver a report, as well as request the publication of signed conventions.
Obstacles to be removed by coordination between State and Regional Actors
1. Addressing joint strategic planning.
2. There is constant coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Presidency and for the Territorial Administrations and border regions (Autonomous Communities) through informal and formal communications and meetings.
3. International and bilateral treaties and the according development in Spanish legislation provide a stable framework for cross-border activities, removing possible institutional obstacles. In addition, different Territorial Administrations (State, regions and local entities) cooperate very intensively.
4. The Valencia Treaty regulated cross-border cooperation between Spanish and Portuguese regional and local entities. The Treaty of Valencia’s Monitoring Comission celebrates meetings every year.
5. The Bayona Treaty regulated cross-border cooperation between Spanish and French regional and local entities. A Commission to monitor the application of the Treaty was also created.
Obstacles to be removed by International Cooperation
1. Solving problems arising from asymmetry of institutions and responsibilities through appropriate cooperation.
2. Harmonisation of cross-border legal instruments.
3. Increasing mutual cultural and linguistic awareness.
4. Strengthening bilateral political momentum.
5. Different agreements established a general framework for cooperation.
6. Most agreements didn’t foresee the creation of a body with separate legal personality. However, there are some conventions that created an organ with no separate legal personality.