I am Florian and I’m a 23 years old French volunteer participating in the INTERREG POCTEFA programme as an IVY volunteer. This is a European territorial cooperation programme created to promote the sustainable development of the border territory between France, Andorra and Spain. The POCTEFA 2021-2027 programme is the fifth generation of Community financial aid aimed at strengthening the economic and social integration of this area. It co-finances cross-border cooperation projects designed and managed by actors from both sides of the Pyrenees and from the coastal areas participating in the Programme, safeguarding the intelligent, sustainable and inclusive development of the territory.
Several local and regional institutions are involved in the management of this European programme, among which the French region of Nouvelle Aquitaine which is the French National Authority of POCETFA, where I am doing my 6 months of volunteering.
As part of my duties, I am involved in the instruction of the projects that were presented in the first call of this new edition of the programme and I attend various meetings and events of the POCTEFA, such as its monitoring, its evolutions, the technical and political part, etc… It is really rewarding to contribute to such a meaningful cause.
By sharing my experiences as an IVY volunteer, I want to raise awareness of the Interreg POCTEFA programme and teach about cooperation within the EU. I have gained valuable knowledge about EU Cohesion Policy, discovered several projects and seen how European regions sharing the same border work together to promote common policies and actions that bring the two countries closer together. It is important to spread the word and publicise the positive impact of the EU in our area as many cross-border projects have been made possible thanks to EU policies and ERDF funds.
As an example of the achievements of the POCTEFA programme, I was able to attend a few days after my arrival in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, a cross-border seminar, held in the city of Jaca in Aragon, where the micro-projects that were financed were presented, then the other corporations that exist on the Spanish-French border were presented to inform them and invite them to set up other cross-border projects.
It was a very interesting event during which I was able to meet several institutions and people who play an important role in the cooperation between France and Spain. It is very encouraging to see the success of the projects and more generally of the calls for proposals financed by the EU, which are the fruit of important joint work between members of several States.
I have also been able to work on the call for Euroregional citizenship of the Territorial Grouping of Territorial Cooperation Euroregion Nouvelle Aquitaine – Euskadi – Navarre. I have participated in the instruction of the projects, their follow-up, several meetings and trips to the headquarters of this organisation on the Spanish-French border, in Hendaye.
The Euroregion participates in projects of the POCTEFA programme and from this edition 2021/27, manages a part of the programme for a functional area West of the border, within the priority 6 of the programme ‘territorially, socially and economically vertebrate the space’. It is very interesting to see how this cooperation is organised and how all these institutional actors cooperate with each other, thanks to the European frameworks that have allowed all this.
In addition, this period of volunteering allowed me to get to know better the institutional body in which I was volunteering with several professionals in cross-border cooperation. I was also able to follow the political life of the institution by observing the debates in the plenary sessions that took place and thus better understand how this body implemented national and European policies in its territory through the decision-making processes.
My participation in the INTERREG POCTEFA programme has been personally rewarding as it has contributed to my personal growth, skills development and knowledge of Spanish-French-Andorran cross-border cooperation. Attending the workshops and witnessing the progress of the project has allowed me to learn a lot about the subject and has helped me to write my Master’s thesis that I have done in relation to this experience. It has also instilled in me values of solidarity through collaboration with people from different places both within the diverse team of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and with the Spanish counterparts. Overall, this experience as an IVY volunteer has provided me with valuable values and has contributed to my personal and professional development.
– Florian, IVY Reporter for the French National Authority for the programme Interreg POCTEFA.