Mountains do not hinder cooperation in the Alpine Space

Did you know that thanks to EU funding, the Alpine food heritage could soon be on the list of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages? Or that Alpine villages are increasingly better protected from rockfall? I didn’t until I started my IVY placement in München at the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg Alpine Space programme two months ago. Coming from the Alpine region myself and, as an outdoor enthusiast, having a close connection to the mountains, I was excited to learn more about how the EU enhances cooperation between Alpine countries and thus the lives of Alpine citizens. The Alpine Space Programme is a transnational Interreg programme, which supports several diverse projects to solve common challenges in the Alpine region.

Over the past months, I have assisted the work of the communication officer through a variety of activities as, for example, writing newsletters and presenting the projects’ achievements on our website. I was also part of organising a workshop together with three projects within the framework of this year’s European Week of Cities and Regions, an annual four-day event dedicated to regional policy. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, I unfortunately missed out on travelling to Brussels since the event was fully online. However, I learned a lot about the organization of online workshops. The topic of our workshop was “Let’s Make Green Europe Happen!” in which we had three different participatory labs on bioeconomic potentials, local low carbon value chains and circular economy implementation.

The programme is currently in the end stages of the funding period 2014-2020 and much time is spent on the programming process for the 2021-2027 period. Therefore, I also get to be part of meetings where the programme structure and priorities for the next seven years are discussed. This provides me with a very interesting insight into the complex processes of the programming process.

Additionally, I have also increased my knowledge of the various Interreg programmes all over Europe by participating in meetings on their coordination processes. It is interesting to see how the programmes cooperate internally to harmonize their structures and to exchange best practices. Even though each area has its own challenges and priorities, the core goal is the same – to strengthen cooperation across borders! Generally, I have learned a lot about the importance of the local and regional level to put into practice what the EU sets itself as a goal.

For my last month at the Joint Secretariat, I hope to find ways to further promote the IVY initiative as I hope that many more young people around Europe can make the same experience and learning process.

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