I was born in a small town in the northern coast of Portugal - Esposende -, from where it would take me about an hour (approximately 50 km) to cross the border to Spain. So, you could say that I have experienced the proximity and cooperation between Spain and Portugal in its purest way: living it and feeling it myself.
Would I have ever imagined being a volunteer of the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal? Absolutely not! The fact is that the experience could not be better, and cooperation is real. Cross-border cooperation is a key element to the development of many European territories, enhancing the cooperation process for the purpose of the overall harmonious development of the European Union.
“Times of mistrust, conflicts and even war gave rise to real cooperation across the entire Spanish-Portuguese border”
I started my experience at the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal (POCTEP) in Badajoz in September 2018. Since then, I have been learning something new (inside and outside the Joint Secretariat) every day. The work is intense and this cross-border area is full of history and interesting facts about Spain and Portugal. Times of mistrust, conflicts and even war gave rise to cooperation across the entire Spanish-Portuguese border. That is one reason that arouse an enormous interest on me.
“The experience could not be better. I have been learning something new (inside and outside the Joint Secretariat) every day”.
So, how am I contributing to the development of this Programme? Essentially, I am helping on the management of Spain-Portugal cross-border projects co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund – ERDF) and supporting the communication strategy through the promotion of the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal.
The Spanish-Portuguese border has strengths such as exports and industrial and innovation areas, and of course its gastronomy and incredible wines! However, it also presents severe challenges such as natural risks, unemployment, aging of the population and depopulation, to which the more than 350 projectsapproved since 2007 – and counting! – by POCTEP are trying to face. That is a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it.
Five months later, I feel like I am contributing in a very positive way to Spain-Portugal living cooperation. Much is being done across the frontier and I am sure that much more (and better) will be done in the future! In short, cohesion policy really matters to Portugal and Spain.