Interreg Youth Volunteer: promoting cooperation and youth engagement for five years – Regional policy



A program to support Interreg through the participation of young people. The Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) initiative is a unique opportunity to have a lasting impact on European cooperation and an investment in the future of the regions. Now celebrating its 5th anniversary, IVY has already impacted the lives of over 780 young people who have participated in the program with their mentors.

The IVY initiative is promoted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and managed by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR). The program offers young people the opportunity to serve as volunteers in Interreg programs and projects supporting European cross-border cooperation. IVY volunteers help highlight the results of Interreg programs as Interreg reporters, or they contribute as Interreg project partners to the implementation of projects when hosted by beneficiaries.

Young people promote Interreg by bringing new ideas and perspectives to the host organisation. At the same time, they discover the work of Interreg and acquire key skills in the field of European cooperation.

Solidarity and cooperation

IVY was launched in 2017 as part of the European Solidarity Corps.

“There are many socially minded young people in Europe who are ready to make a significant contribution to society and show solidarity. We can create opportunities for them to do so… Solidarity is the glue that binds our Union together,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, who was then President of the European Commission.

DG REGIO seized this opportunity and joined its call to involve young people by launching IVY via Interreg, which promotes cooperation and solidarity between regions and across borders and is the ideal policy for involving young people.

Broaden and strengthen the initiative

The heart of the initiative has not changed since then. Everything always revolves around three pillars: supporting cooperation, making Interreg more visible and enabling young people to participate in cooperation policy.

Yet many new things have been introduced, reinforcing what began as a pilot initiative. The geographical scope has been extended to countries involved in cross-border cooperation programs for pre-accession assistance (Interreg API)[1] and in the Neighborhood Cross-Border Cooperation Programs (ENI-CBC), now known as Interreg NEXT[2].

In May 2019, the possibility for IVY volunteers to organize local events was introduced. Since then, volunteers can receive dedicated funds to plan and implement events – known as citizen engagement activities – informing people of European regional policy achievements on behalf of DG REGIO.

Finally, two important aspects have been integrated this year. Since January 2022, the IVY initiative has been operating autonomously and is no longer part of the European Solidarity Corps. In addition, the initiative now has a three-year plan, ensuring continuity and a long-term perspective, which is beneficial for host organizations and volunteers. This change also enables deeper integration of IVY into program and project workflows.

Interview with Louise Floman, DG REGIO, European cross-border cooperation

Louise, you have been overseeing IVY for many years now. In your opinion, what is the great success of IVY?

‘IVY has created a community of young people with an interest and knowledge of Interreg. In addition, one of the main achievements of the initiative is the geographical expansion, to allow all Interreg programs to participate. We are still working to make all participating countries eligible, so that we can include the whole Interreg family in the initiative.

Is there a moment during those five years of IVY that you remember particularly well?

“From time to time I meet a young professional working in an Interreg project, at the program secretariat or even at the European Commission, and they tell me that they discovered Interreg through their IVY experience. It always makes me happy!

2022 marks IVY’s 5th anniversarye anniversary. It’s time to celebrate and look ahead. What do you wish for the future of IVY?

“We hope to complete the work of associating the whole Interreg family with the initiative. I also hope that we will have more volunteers from certain under-represented regions of Europe.

A success story from several points of view

“I was looking forward to seizing the opportunity to understand how European cooperation projects work”, said Stefano Rinaldi, IVY volunteer for the Interreg project FRAMESPORT – Framework initiative promoting the sustainable development of small Adriatic ports in Termoli , in Italy. He explained why he decided to volunteer through IVY: “I like contributing to the strategic work plan of the project, which is the result of the cooperation between different European partners who together pursue their goals to achieve common goals. for a more prosperous world. European Union.’

Nóra Sebesi was one of the first IVY volunteers in 2017 and was deployed under the transnational Interreg Danube programme. Today she works as an information point for the Interreg VA Romania-Hungary programme. “Looking back, this experience has given me more than I expected: a coherent knowledge of the world of Interreg, but also invaluable personal relationships, unique opportunities to improve myself and successes to remember”, said she declared.

For Stefano Rinaldi, IVY has an important impact as the main point of reference for young people to get involved in cooperation projects. From her experience as an IVY volunteer, Nóra particularly appreciated that she had both room for creativity and initiative in her work, and an international environment. She said, “IVY has made it all possible, while creating a community of like-minded young people!”

They both hope that more and more young people will be able to take advantage of this unique program so that they can “continue to build the youth gateway to cooperation”, as Nóra puts it.

Nora SebesiStefano Rinaldi

Nora Sebesi Stefano Rinaldi

The aim is to bring the enthusiasm of IVY volunteers to all Interreg programs

“We have never seen so many young people involved in Interreg,” said Dirk Peters, Senior Expert for European Territorial Cooperation at the European Commission. The impact of IVY is a success. Of the 780 volunteers involved in the first five years of the programme, many went on to work for Interreg, like Nóra.

Many of the people who drafted and presented the Manifesto for young people by young people to shape European cooperation policy, published by the European Commission in 2020, were IVY volunteers. The resulting #Youth4Cooperation initiative has shown how Interreg programs and projects also take into account the importance of making young people’s voices heard.

With this initiative, DG REGIO and AEBR have created a program that has a significant impact on territorial cooperation and on young people – ultimately on the future of European integration.

“We want to continue to give young people like Nóra and Stefano the opportunity to engage in the field of cooperation, so that Interreg gets closer to its citizens, is more responsive to the needs of young people and better known to local citizens. . Moving forward, we want to bring the enthusiasm of IVY volunteers to all Interreg programmes,” said Cinzia Dellagiacoma, IVY Initiative Manager at AEBR.

[1] Serbia, Republic of North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Turkey.

[2] Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Republic of Moldova, Russia, Tunisia and Ukraine.

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