Participating in IVY and volunteering for my host organisation, the European Association of Development Agencies (EURADA), continues to give me access to events and the goings on in regional policy at the centre of European Affairs, Brussels. From this experience I can see how transnational and cross border cooperation works from the inside and make my own contribution in my way .
A snapshot of my first 3 months in Brussels: January– March 2018
Got inside the Parliament and visited the Mission of Switzeland to the European Union.
Thanks to Anna-Maria (a parliamentary assistant), Tomasso (who also participated in IVY at EURADA) and I were able to have an afterhours tour of the European Parliament. On the same day, we were also at the Swiss Mission where we heard Professor Dominic Foray speak about Smart Specialisation Strategies (a key concept for one of the Interreg Europe projects on which I am working – Beyond EDP).
Attended one Conference at the Committee of the Regions and one the European Commission’s Berlaymont building.
During my first months in Brussels, I gained a lot more familiarity with the European Institutions and how they are relevant for regions.
Volunteering at EURADA has been a great way to learn about regional economic development and see what is done at the European level for cross border cooperation/interregional cooperation. Attending the European Commission’s High Level Event for the Smart Specialisation Strategies Platform for Energy, I networked with people from all over Europe who are cooperating at a regional level to make possible investment in energy innovation. I heard discussions on lessons learnt from interregional collaboration on Energy as well as the possibilities for future development in the field of interregional cooperation.
My understanding of the bigger European picture has developed a lot too. At the Committee of the Regions, I attended a briefing on the future of Cohesion Policy where the Cohesion Alliance was discussed in detail in the evolving context of the future Multiannual Financial Framework (EU budget). The Cohesion Alliance is about bringing together all those who affect and are affected by regional policies in Europe with an aim to strengthening and protecting Cohesion Policy in the future.
Networking at Scotland Europa
On top of attending conferences and briefings, part of volunteering for a European association involves meeting other associations and representations. So as a member of the EURADA team, I continue to enjoy attending interesting events at Scotland Europa. Scotland Europa also represents two members of EURADA– Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise .
Participating in Interreg Europe’s Beyond EDP project peer review in Saxony Anhalt.
In spite of being in the hives of activity that are EURADA and Brussels, my IVY placement hasn’t glued me too much to the Brussels ‘bubble’, although it is easily done. Most recently, I travelled to Germany for a three day meeting for one of the Interreg Europe projects on which I am volunteering – Beyond EDP. Before this meeting and going forward, I have been and I will be volunteering to assist EURADA’s director to advise the project and assist one the project partners with future dissemination and communication of the project’s work and results.
Also, let’s not forget that IVY has introduced me to Brussels – a city that I never stop enjoying. From drinking one or two Belgian beers and dancing at a great Brussels institution like l’archiduc to indulging in reading for free all the other language newspapers of the European Union (that I can - 🇫🇷 🇪🇸) in the Parliament’s visitor centre ‘the Parlimentarium’, this city suits me very well.