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Interreg Volunteer Youth: celebrating three years of promotion of territorial cooperation

AEBR celebrates the third anniversary of the pilot initiative Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) with over 450 volunteers deployed so far in Interreg Programmes and Projects. Since January 2020, ENI – Cross-Border Cooperation Programmes and their projects can host IVY volunteers. In 2019, IVY volunteers have devised and organised 20 events to inform citizens about cross-border cooperation, and one additional issue of the “Stories of European Cooperation” has been published. AEBR and IVY volunteers have participated, among others, to the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels.

This March, AEBR celebrates the third anniversary of the pilot initiative Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY), and it does so with great achievements: over 450 volunteers have been deployed so far in Interreg Programmes and Projects, and over 170 host organisations participate. For three years, AEBR has promoted the visibility of European Territorial Cooperation and has empowered young people to be part of territorial cooperation projects. Thanks to the support of every volunteer and their mentors and host organisations, of the colleagues at DG REGIO and other relevant stakeholders, IVY has successfully made Interreg projects more visible all over Europe. The volunteers have shown how cooperation helps overcome challenges and find common solutions to the benefit of European citizens, spreading the important message that we are stronger together.

Since 2017, IVY volunteers have promoted territorial cooperation. Host organisations have particularly appreciated their support in communication activities. They have created communication outputs, managed social media channels and brought projects and programmes closer together. This way, they have reached a wider public and successfully informed European citizens about the benefits stemming from cooperation projects.

Thanks to the positive results achieved with IVY so far, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, promoter of the initiative, has agreed on continuing the project, and to extend it to participants from countries neighbouring the EU. Up to now, in addition to EU Member States, Switzerland and member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), namely Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, IVY also included since 2019 those countries involved in Pre-Accession Assistance Cross-border Co-operation Programmes (IPA-CBC), i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey. Since January 2020, both host organisations located in and young candidates from countries involved in Neighbourhood Cross-border Co-operation Programmes (ENI-CBC), namely Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Republic of Moldova, Russia, Tunisia and Ukraine can participate in the initiative.

Since Spring 2019, IVY participants have also the opportunity to organise events, meetings and forums, so called Citizens’ Engagement Activities, to involve citizens and promote European projects within their local communities. So far, volunteers have successfully organised almost 20 of these events all over Europe.

Rebecca Hollely, an IVY volunteer in Eberswalde, Germany, at the Interreg Central Europe’s project BEECH POWER, says: “So far I am really enjoying being part of the project, which focuses on the conservation and protection of beech forests in Europe. During my time here I have also had the pleasure of organising a Citizens Engagement Activity, which took place on the 7-8 November. My event, called ‘Discover Beech Symposium’, was a workshop and field trip that I organised around the theme of beech forest conservation. I invited many people from all over Europe who work with beech forests to come and present their knowledge and experiences of the current situation of beech. I also invited students from a Local Committee of the International Forestry Students‘ Association, and other key interested parties from the local community so that we could all learn from each other.”

IVY volunteers have also participated in many events promoting the projects they are involved in. Last October, they attended the European Week of Regions and Cities. At the workshop “The EU at Hand: New Inputs from Volunteers”, ten volunteers had the opportunity to talk about their IVY experiences showcasing their efforts to promote cooperation and sharing their ideas to further disseminate information about Interreg to a general audience and to young people.

AEBR, in collaboration with Interact, has published one more issue of the “Stories of European Cooperation”. The latest publication, accessible here, focuses on Interreg projects implemented with Spanish stakeholders and their partners in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde, France, Portugal and up to the United Kingdom. Marion Charret,  Hélène Champloy, Clémentine Zill, Sara Pettinelli, Nuno Tiago dos Santos Lopes and Luc Francois contributed to show the achievements of cooperation to improve citizens’ lives in border regions.

The initiative Interreg Volunteer Youth is about sharing values and making cross-border cooperation a priority for all European citizens. AEBR aspires to make IVY permanent and integrated in the core of all European territorial cooperation programmes, so to continue involving young people in the European project.


Due to Covid-19 pandemic, on 16 March 2020 IVY stopped deployments with certain exceptions. Deployments will resume once health authorities declare the end of contention measures.

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