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DG REGIO, IVY volunteers and mentors wish for a Europe closer to its citizens

Europe is about working together. So, to celebrate Europe’s Day and the launching of the Conference on the Future of Europe, we brought together the actors who make Interreg Volunteer Youth a reality. They got to know each other and exchanged on mutual expectations and ideas – the very first step of collaboration, as everyone involved in Interreg knows.

12 May 2021

Three representatives of the European Commission’s DG REGIO, three IVY volunteers, and three mentors met on 10 May 2021 to listen to and learn from each other: Agnès Monfret from Regio’s Communication Unit, Astrid Aulnette from Transnational Cooperation and Macro-regional Strategies, and Pascal Boijmans, Head of Unit for Interreg and CBC, represented the Commission; Emmanuel Maniscalco from the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR, France), Catalina Bejarano from the Tres Culturas Foundation (Sevilla, Spain), and Maria Cristina Mangano from the University of Palermo (Italy) represented the host organisations. Luca Arfini (Italian Reporter at Interreg Baltic Sea Region), Bektha Djilidjel (French Reporter at INTERREG France-Wallonie-Vlaanderen) and Rosa Escamilla Torregrosa (Spanish Project Partner at EURADA) were the volunteers.

Since March 2017, the Interreg Volunteer Youth initiative allows programmes and projects of territorial cooperation to host volunteers to help promote the benefits of collaboration among regions towards citizens. A novelty in this field, and everyone talked about it as a success story: it is effectively raising awareness about Interreg, it gives support and inspiration to the mentors, it is a great opportunity to make a professional experience in territorial cooperation and improve Interreg.

The speakers discussed first the future of the Interreg Volunteer Youth initiative, which, Luca Arfini pointed out, should be more accessible. Catalina Bejarano, an IVY mentor since 2017, wished for IVY to continue in the long term because of its positive impact. Agnès Monfret, head of communication at DG REGIO, described the future of IVY as a long-lasting and expanding one: geographically and more popular.

Talking about Interreg, Bektha Djilidjel, an enthusiast of cooperation, proposed that Interreg could be even more effective if closer to its citizens, for example by “involving them with consultations that decide about its priorities and creating specific calls for citizens”. Maria Cristina Mangano agreed: “cooperation is essential for the development of shared territories, but it is equally important to sensibilise citizens about its results“. Pascal Boijmans, head of the Unit working on Interreg at DG REGIO, also pointed at the involvement of citizens and communication as key priorities for the next generation of Interreg. “Solving obstacles affecting cooperation is a new objective that will improve Interreg in the future, too”, said Pascal Boijmans.

And what is the role of youth? Rosa Escamilla Torregrosa claimed that the role of young people is essential and suggested the “Erasmus-formula”: “the success of European policies depends on the involvement of young people”. Astrid Aulnette added that the European Commission had launched many initiatives to get closer to the youth and to listen to their ideas –  for example, the Manifesto for young people by young people to shape the European cooperation policy. Emmanuel Maniscalco was of the opinion that it is the task of those who work on European Affairs to raise awareness of what the EU is doing, and especially on territorial cooperation, involving schools particularly.

AEBR, together with colleagues from DG REGIO and IVY volunteers and mentors, celebrated a new Europe, a Europe that is much closer to its citizens – “a dream of the early founders of the EU come true, thanks to projects like IVY”, concluded Martin Guillermo-Ramírez, AEBR’s Secretary General.

 

Watch the full video of the exchange here.

This event has been registered under Education, culture, youth and sport at the Conference on the Future of Europe.

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