"IVY started on 1st March 2017 as part of the broader European Solidarity Corps Initiative launched by the European Commission in December 2016 and already announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Speech at the European Parliament on 14 September 2016.
When President Juncker announced his willingness to create the “European Solidarity Corps” (ESC) in September last year, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) immediately decided to contribute to the ESC with the creation of a pilot initiative addressing European youth and promoting values like “solidarity” and “cooperation”, which are at the core of EU Regional Policy.
In particular, within DG REGIO, colleagues working at the Unit in charge of “European Territorial Cooperation”, also known as “Interreg”, found it a brilliant idea to create an initiative aimed at involving young volunteers to support, promote and report the concrete achievements of Interreg programmes and projects, as well as generally promote cooperation across European borders and related values such as solidarity.
Hence, IVY was born and AEBR was entrusted with IVY management because of its solid experience in the field of EU project management, its wide network across most European borders as well as its interest to support European youth and boost values such as solidarity and cooperation among Europeans of all ages."
Why is this programme important for the cross-border dimension?
"In such difficult times for the European Union, it is crucial to give the right attention and visibility to successful cross-border (i.e. Interreg) stories and thus get the right support from EU citizens, governments and institutions to keep cross-border cooperation – and related funding – as a crucial part of European Integration. Hosting a young motivated volunteer can significantly support Interreg activities in a unique and valuable way by providing a fresh, dynamic and effective approach to the implementation & communication of Interreg results.
IVY represents an innovative and effective way to make sure cross-border cooperation gets the right, well-deserved and needed visibility across the EU. IVY is an excellent programme to show local, national and EU decision makers that we need to keep on funding European cross-border cooperation which is at the heart of the European project."
Can you give us some examples of activities young people do in this initiative?
"The beauty of “Interreg” is its cross-sectoral dimension. Indeed, people living in European border areas cooperate in order to get better healthcare, education and transport services, as well as more employment and business opportunities, not to mention their interest to work together to improve the environment, invest in joint research and innovation projects and so on. This means that also our volunteers operate in a wide variety of contexts such as: teaching school children at the German-French border about cross-border cooperation with creative games; helping young people find a job in the Danube area; supporting the healthcare system at the border between Estonia and Germany; putting research skills at the benefit of a project ensuring long-term sustainability of water supply, treatment and end-use in Irish and Welsh regions. Many more examples and stories can be found in the IVY blog"
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining?
"If you care about living in a strong, developed, free, open-minded, well-connected, cooperative and culturally rich Europe…
If you feel you can contribute to important European projects and initiatives that boost cooperation and solidarity…
If you want to feel rewarded by doing something meaningful and good for society…
If you want to make a change in the life of Europeans…
…Then you should definitely become our next IVY volunteer!"