by Anna Szlendak

Today we are talking with Maria Montoiro who is a Project Coordinator of AYCH in Atlantic Cities.

Hi, Maria, can you tell as a little about yourself?

I am a jurist, specialized in business law, but since I discovered the European Affairs at Atlantic Cities ten years ago, I could not stop to move forward in this area as I am a European passionate. In fact, the European Union offers us a big framework of opportunities for European citizens. These benefits range from free movement across its borders to social rights or skills empowerment. It should be also noted, all personal development opportunities the EU offers for citizens of all age ranges, notably in the framework of youth as is the case in AYCH project.

You are project coordinator in Atlantic Cities. How looks your work?

In fact, I am in charge of EU funded projects focused on territorial development from diverse thematic approach:

  • youth
  • innovation
  • sustainable development
  • entrepreneurship empowerment under gender equality approach.

Different topics but a common goal: involve youngest generations for the future of our territories and citizens wellbeing.

Indeed, all these thematic try to cope with our daily lives’ threats and thus, by involving youth we can get a new insight to develop green and sustainable future cities, as it is scheduled for the upcoming AYCH International Creative Jam.

What is the best part of your work?

Approach the European Union (EU) to citizens, explain them all opportunities the EU offers to them and how they could benefit from it. In fact, so many European programmes are focused on youth, but usually, youth do not know how to access them.

On the contrary, my job also allows me to approach citizens’ concerns to the EU institutions. In fact, our main aim is to make aware the European Union on real citizens needs and thus, improve citizens wellbeing.

Moreover, it should be stressed that working in multicultural environment such as Atlantic Cities allows to growth my personal grounds and this is very motivating.

What do you think about the project?

I think AYCH project offers a unique opportunity to youth from all background, helping them to develop their creativity under a multicultural environment. In fact, this international experience would be otherwise impossible to imagine for youth from vulnerable backgrounds.

As for this Multicultural Atlantic experience in the framework of AYCH project, gives them the opportunity to moves forward and to learn from each other experience in order to contribute to their personal development and create future opportunities for them.

What can  AYCH offer to Atlantic cities?

AYCH offers the opportunity to reinforce the development of Atlantic Cities Atlantic Futures programme. In fact, Atlantic Futures is a programme addressed to increase employment opportunities among young people within the Atlantic Arc, an area specially touched by high level of unemployment rates, notably within youth.

At this moment, Atlantic Futures is present in six different projects developed by Atlantic Cities network and therefore it counts with different funding sources. Concerning AYCH project, Atlantic Futures programme allows youth to approach to labour markets real needs, improve labour mobility, promote social entrepreneurship under equal opportunities framework.

Also, allows the development of AYCH Kids drawing contest, a contest which main aim is to involve kids to think in a sustainable and resilient future. To this extent, make aware the future generations from their first life steps to think in an innovative and creative way to offer future solutions for citizens wellbeing.


What does Atlantic Cities offer to AYCH?

Atlantic Cities as a transnational association which represents local authorities ‘priorities and initiatives all along the Atlantic Arc, offers to AYCH a unique European scope by bringing together almost 400 municipalities and embracing 4 million citizens from Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.

Notably, this year Atlantic Cities celebrates its 20th anniversary, 20 years in 2020, 20 years of work and experience at European level, by approaching to Europe citizens’ real needs and by working at local level to strength development opportunities for all. Notably, by creating youth opportunities as is the case of AYCH project. Indeed, AYCH project background dates from Jules project, a project personally created by Atlantic Cities Secretary General, Tamara Espiñeira, aimed at creating job opportunities for youth from all the Atlantic Arc.

Create future opportunities for all within the Atlantic Arc is the core work of Atlantic Cities.

What would be your message to young people in your country?

As Atlantic Cities represents 4 countries all along the Atlantic coast, I would like to let all Atlantic Youth the enriching cultural heritage they have, to take advantage of it and to take the opportunities this entire Arc offers to them, to develop new skills and job opportunities in this multicultural environment by sharing experiences, at the same they preserve their endogenous values.


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