The Arrabona EGTC
The Danube as the natural border of the Roman Empire has defended the province of Pannonia and one of its strengths, Arrabona, situated at the present-day site of Győr from the northern barbarian hordes. (The town was named after the Raba River’s Roman name “Arrabo”.) Within the Hungarian kingdom, the two banks of the Danube formed closely connected areas, which were related in terms of the administration, as well.
After 1920, the Danube separated these regions with the strictness of the former Limes again, and only two bridges, the one at Rajka and the other at Medve provided passage and connection.
The accession of Hungary and Slovakia to the European Union brought about fundamental changes in several ways. The opening of the borders does not only allow the free movement of goods, also the flow of the labour force is significant, and since the joining to the Schengen area, the Slovakian capital’s agglomeration has spectacularly spread to the Hungarian side, as well.
The development of the co-operation between the two border regions is strengthened by the EU’s financial resources, too. Thanks to them, the transport links and the logistical conditions are constantly improving and the integration of tourism services was also started.
The EU law harmonization enabled the establishment of a new management organization, the Arrabona EGTC, supporting the development of the entire region.
In 2010, the region’s four major towns, Győr and Mosonmagyaróvár from Hungary and Dunajská Streda (Dunaszerdahely) and Šamorín (Somorja) from Slovakia decided to create a joint development organization with a separate legal entity to institutionalize their already existing relations at a higher level.
The EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation: European regional association) is allowed to act independently in both affected countries, can employ their own staff, and establish and operate joint institutions and companies ensuring the long-term sustainability of the joint projects. Arrabona EGTC is the most modern institutional tool for the integrated development of previously separated areas. It is no coincidence that since its foundation, the neighbouring towns are joining the initiative. The co-operation may potentially involve 120 local governments in the future.
The Grouping’s particular purpose is to initiate and help the strengthening of the economic and social cohesion, and the direct and indirect preservation and maintenance of the balance of the Danube Valley as an ecological system, co-financed by the European Union, through programs and projects implemented in regional co-operation and to improve the elements of social and technical infrastructure.
The co-operation thematically covers all areas of development in the region:
- industrial and logistics co-operation
- development of infrastructure
- energy management and waste management
- employment, business stimulus, education, research, training, innovation
- environmental protection, nature and landscape protection, landscape management
- social relationships, sports, recreation.
The EGTC formulates an own development plan for the EU budget period from 2014 to 2020. The participants of the co-operation do not merely expect from the new institution to provide help in the reasonable use of the EU funds: the EGTC provides a new perspective, a new level of co-operation based on mutual benefits for the residents of the previously closely related regions.
It may also help to rediscover the colours of the region and use them for the benefit of people living there.