Observatory wants to make both sides of the border feel the Eurocity of the Guadiana "as its own"

Francisco Amaral wants the population of Castro Marim, VRSA and Ayamonte not to feel like foreigners on the other side of the river

Achieving that the population of the border municipalities of Castro Marim, Vila Real de Santo António and Ayamonte, the latter in Spain, feel "as their own" the Eurocity of Guadiana, through the encouragement of citizenship, is one of the objectives of the Transfrontier Observatory that was formally presented yesterday in Castro Marim.

This citizen participation project, which will call on the inhabitants of the three municipalities to express their views on their concerns and identify existing problems, is, in essence, the way found by the three municipalities that make up the Eurocity to take cross-border cooperation even further. and the benefits to be reaped from it.

"It is important that the population feel this Eurocity as its own and that there is no feeling that we are going abroad when we go to Ayamonte and vice versa", summarized Francisco Amaral, mayor of Castro Marim, on the sidelines of the session.

“We have to listen to the people: the Vilarealenses, the Ayamontinos, the Castro-Amerians. Listen to them, know what they want and involve them in the decision. The people have to feel this Eurocity and feel the benefits it brings», believes the mayor.

“There are already some advantages, we have the Eurocity card that gives access to some infrastructure in the municipality, it gives discounts in certain areas. Now, an in-depth study is needed to develop a strategy for this territory. Hence the importance of this observatory, of the involvement of the Universities of the Algarve and of Huelva, in order, in a scientific way, to elevate this project with support, with active participation», he believes.



Álvaro Araújo, the president of the VRSA Chamber, highlighted, for his part, the importance of cross-border cooperation.

“These territories must be complementary, never in competition. I have already spoken with my colleague Francisco Amaral that having a broader collaboration, for example, in terms of waste collection was something positive. It would allow that, instead of three structures, there was only one. That's where we have to go», he believes

To reach out to the population of the three municipalities, a specialized company was hired, “which will carry out field work and promote participation”, through, for example, public sessions, but not only.

The work that will be carried out will make it possible to create a strategy for the future, which Francisco Amaral, who is currently the president of the Eurocity of Guadiana (the position is rotating), hopes will be "ambitious".

“This can be a very important thing if we are ambitious. For example, it would be great if we could have access to Spanish health services. Those huge waiting lists for a specialist outpatient appointment or for surgery at the Hospital are inhumane. Faro. If Vilarrealenses and Castromarinenses had access to services in Spain, perhaps the problem would be alleviated," he said.



The mayor of Castro Marim also hopes that there may be a reduction in the “immense bureaucratic burden” that exists. "It makes no sense that firefighters from VRSA and Castro Marim cannot go to help in situations in Spain and vice versa."

This situation is even more ridiculous considering that Castro Marim is preparing to move forward with a project worth nearly one million euros, financed by European funds destined for cross-border cooperation, to create a local firefighters training unit in the village of Azinhal, with the capacity to train Portuguese, but also Spanish, civil protection agents and firefighters.

“There is an immense bureaucratic burden that makes this relationship difficult, but it has to be overcome and that is what we are here for. The observatory serves to survey all these difficulties and try to find solutions. We have a good technical team, we have a good spirit, good mayors who are involved in this Eurocity and, as such, we must take this to the last consequences and, above all, make the population feel and live this Eurocity", concluded Francisco Amaral.

Francisco Javier López, vice mayor of Ayamonte, also highlighted the role of technicians from the Eurocity, "responsible for the progress achieved".

"Now we are going to work with conviction in this observatory", he urged.



Also present at the session was José Apolinário, president of the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission, who placed the emphasis on increasing collaboration between the two sides of the border.

"Our ambition must be to strengthen cooperation and take advantage of the good relations between the two sides of the river to bring people closer together," he said.

As for the project of the Azinhal firefighters training unit, José Apolinário revealed that it was "recognized by Madrid as a very important project for cross-border cooperation".


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação