I was not aware of how complicated life can be for European citizens who live in cross-border areas until I moved to one of these areas, precisely on the Italian/Slovenian border.
The history of this area is unique and fascinating; originally Gorizia/Gorica was a single town that was split between Italy and the former Yugoslavia following World War II, literally divided in half by a wall that was built in 1947. In 2004, with the entry of Slovenia into the EU, the wall was finally removed. Now there is an open square, called “Europe Square”, with a tile in the centre that has replaced the wall. The place is evocative, and it allowed me to do one of the coolest things ever: standing in two countries at once!
With the EU and the Schengen Agreement, things got easier for residents in border areas, it was a great achievement and a giant step forward; however, many legal and administrative barriers persist.
In 2006, the EU Parliament and the Council established the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) to facilitate and promote cross-border and interregional cooperation, in view of strengthening the economic and social cohesion of the European Union.
Thanks to IVY, I volunteer as an INTERREG Project Partner at the EGTC GO, which includes the Municipalities of Gorizia, Nova Gorica and Sempeter-Vrtojba. The EGTC GO was established to identify and cope with common challenges in order to strengthen the cross-border territory.
As a young woman with a strong desire to make a difference in the European society, it feels great to be actively involved in a Programme that pursues two of the main goals of the EU: cross-border cooperation and solidarity. It is amazing to promote projects that aim at improving the life and the well-being of citizens of my home country (Italy) and one of its neighbours, Slovenia, by reducing disparities and supporting sustainable and inclusive growth of both.
They say: “in unity there is strength” and now, more than ever, it is important to bring regions closer, to build bridges instead of walls and to stay “united in diversity”
The EGTC GO is currently working on two projects: Isonzo-Soča Cross-border Park and Project Salute-Zdravstvo for the establishment of a network of cross-border health services.
The Isonzo-Soča project aims at “giving back” the river to the citizens, encouraging them to take advantage of the territory crossed by the river. This project includes the construction of a bridge across the river and a network of walking and cycling routes that will constitute a cross-border urban park and will promote the sustainable mobility of the inhabitants of the area.
The project “Construction of a network of cross-border health services” aims at improving the performance of social-health services within the cross-border territory of the EGTC GO, through a work of integration between the services and health facilities involved in the project, to ensure the universal right to healthcare to anyone. The project contemplates also some solutions for the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.The project “Construction of a network of cross-border health services” aims at improving the performance of social-health services within the cross-border territory of the EGTC GO, through a work of integration between the services and health facilities involved in the project, to ensure the universal right to healthcare to anyone. The project contemplates also some solutions for the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.
By reporting on these projects, I have the chance to let people know the added value of cross-border cooperation and make them aware of how the EU, through its many regional projects, positively affects their daily lives. I'm halfway through my IVY experience and I am proud of what I have done so far. I feel I contributed to something good that will impact positively the local population. When states cooperate, citizens grow closer and the EU gets stronger.