I am free to choose where in the European Union I want to live, study or work – this is modern Europe. I can cross national borders without showing my identity card. How about your son or daughter? Have they ever considered studying or travelling abroad, say, in Finland or in Poland? No other region in the world offers such freedom of movement. In our Rostock-based Interreg office, half of the staff carry a German passport, and half of them carry a different one. We are glad of their expertise, their personal enthusiasm and their readiness for innovation. And we are proud to have a truly European, multinational team that offers the best possible support to projects in finding solutions which meet their needs.
To me, the European Union is first and foremost an outstanding project of peace and solidarity – a project that must be defended. Some people consider the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957 as the launch of the Union. Yet I grew up during the Cold War near the unsurmountable frontier between the two German states, frightened by the watch towers and the barbed wire that sowed fear and distrust. To me, it was the gradual fall of the Iron Curtain between 1989 and 1991 that launched the European Union as we know it today.
We know that the European Union needs to be rethought – certainly as reflected in the Brexit referendum. We need a positive and inspiring vision of the future European Union. I consider it backward and regressive to propagate the building of walls, re-nationalisation and xenophobia. At Interreg, we are proud to present strong, future-oriented examples of successful projects cooperating across borders and regions. Interreg believes in an integrated and prosperous Europe for all. And Interreg provides solid evidence of the fundamental values of the EU – thinking, speaking and working together without boundaries.
Susanne Scherrer, Director of the Managing Authority and the Joint Secretariat