EGTC Priority – Transport Corridor from the Baltic to the Aegean Sea

The second meeting of the General Assembly of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation Via Carpatia (EGTC) took place in Košice on February 27, 2014. The main point of the agenda was to determine the Grouping strategy for the next period and the election of the Chair of the Supervisory Board.

The goal of the Grouping is to strengthen and support the cross-border, transnational and regional cooperation between its members, the Košice Self-governing Region and the Borsód – Abaúj – Zemplén County and to strengthen the economic and social coherence, mainly through the realization of projects or programs of cross-border cooperation. Based on the analyses performed in both regions, the concept highlighted several important factors.

Mr Roland Mengyi, the Governor of the Borsód – Abaúj – Zemplén County, said, “the Support of the construction of the north – south transport corridor Via Carpatia is crucial and it is a major goal in terms of the Via Carpatia EGTC”, adding that “all actions leading to progress in this activity are of high priority”.

“I think that based on the previous professional and friendly relations, we are on the right track to achieve the above strategic objectives and can expect nothing but success in the future”, Mr Zdenko Trebuľa, the Governor of the Košice Region, added.

Via Carpatia is an ancient route connecting the Baltic Sea and the Aegean Sea. Its development and faster construction might have a great impact on the economic development of countries including development of SMEs, research and science, technologies and industrial parks, which cannot do without transport infrastructure and logistics. It is not a new initiative. At the meeting of representatives of Transport Ministries of seven countries in Polish town of Lancut in autumn 2012, Slovakia officially joined Lancut Declaration, the aim of which is to build the shortest route from the north to the south of Europe. The route called “Via Carpatia” will run from Lithuanian seaport Klaipeda via Kaunas, Polish cities Bialystok, Lublin and Rzeszow, via Košice and Hungarian towns of Miskolc and Debrecen, across Romania via Oradea, Lugoj, Calafat and Constanta, via Bulgarian metropolis of Sofia and Svilengrad up to in Greek Thessaloniki. The original Lancut Declaration was signed by four Transport Ministers from Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Brussels plans to develop the corridor only after 2050. Therefore, the national governments have not paid much attention to it, yet. It is, therefore, necessary to take a grassroots initiative for the development of the corridor of a strategic importance for the regions along the Shengen border where Via Carpatia could play a major role. A crucial task of such grassroots initiative is to get the regions along the corridor to participate in negotiations and sign a Joint Agreement to build Via Carpatia. Consequently, a feasibility study for the corridor assessing possible benefits to the social and economic development should be conducted. These goals are included in the EGTC Strategy as the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation Via Carpatia could play an important role in coordinating those challenging tasks.

Other strategic areas include supporting agricultural production by SMEs, as well as branding of the EGTC Via Carpatia by secondary schools and universities, and last but not least, development and presentation of cultural and historic sights in both Regions.

Oliver Kovács, Deputy Director of the Office of the Košice Region was elected the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the EGTC Via Carpatia. The Office of the EGTC Via Carpatia was opened on September 1, 2013 led by the Director Julianna Orbán Máté.