A program that helps cross-border programs. That is one way to sum up what the Interact program does. Coming as an IVY-Interreg reporter to the Interact office in Bratislava in the beginning of September 2017, I was rather confused. Sounding slightly abstract, it was a challenge as an Interreg reporter to first, understand, and second, explain what Interact does without getting caught up in bureaucratic talking and technical details.
But once you get past the rather complicated program structure, Interact consists of a dedicated team that help EU cross-border programs, also known as Interreg, to manage different problems that can arise when you cooperate across borders.
Because cooperation can be very complicated. Building a bridge between two countries might seem straightforward, but it involves dealing with different building laws and different bureaucracy cultures. Interact makes cross-border cooperation easier by helping Interreg cross-border programs to navigate in the jungle of rules, demands and differences.
Interact also promotes cross-border cooperation through the European Cooperation Day event. During approximately one month, Interact helps Interreg cross-border programs all over Europe to organize events to raise awareness about the cooperation that takes place locally, and also promote the spirit of cooperation. This year, ca. 80 events were organized and people enjoyed cross-border biking paths, cultural and food events, and different seminars or field excursions in boarder regions. In Bratislava, Interact organised the interactive conference “Cooperation against extremism” where ca. 300 students were invited to discuss extremism and the benefits of diversity. This is a hot topic in Slovakia where the fascist Kotleba party is increasing, and the students were very engaged in the discussion.
Having been an Interreg reporter at Interact for one month, it’s become clear to me that cooperation is complicated, but that it can make the life in border areas so much easier. In the upcoming posts, I will give you concrete examples of what cross-border cooperation looks like, and why it’s worth doing.
Ellen, Interreg Reporter at Interact, Bratislava, Slovakia.