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The European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

The European Union Strategy for the Danube Region
21.03.2012

A strategy to stimulate development in the Danube region was presented on December 8 in European Union Document COM (2010) 715/4.

In Budapest, on February 3, 2011, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Yanosh Martoni, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, announced the countries and regions that would coordinate the major areas of interest related to development of the Danube region. On April 13, 2011, member nations supported the European Union strategy for development of the Danube region as outlined by the General Council. The Presidency and the European Council approved the Strategy on June 24, 2011, initiating the first phase leading to the realization of the initiative.

The Danube region includes eight European Union member states (Germany, Austria, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Rumania) and six countries outside of the European Union (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine, and Moldova).

The region faces a number of pressing challenges:
  • ecological concerns (water pollution, flooding, climate change);
  • unrealized potential for navigation of the river, including a lack of road and rail transport connections;
  • insufficient energy ties;
  • imbalance in social and economic development;
  • lack of coordination among educational and research institutions, and too little innovation;
  • insufficient social security.
The Danube strategy is divided into eleven key areas, which in turn are tied to the strategy’s four major emphases:
A) Establishing ties within the Danube region by
  1. improving mobility and intercommunication
  2. encouraging dependable energy
  3. promoting culture, tourism, and contacts among people.
B) Preserving regions that border on the Danube by
  1. improving and maintaining water quality;
  2. limiting ecological risks;
  3. preserving biological diversity, scenic beauty, and soil quality.
C) Contributing to the prosperity of the Danube region by
  1. developing society by improving its foundations through research, education, and information technology;
  2. encouraging economic competitiveness
  3. investing in human resources and individual abilities. 
D) Strengthening the Danube region by
  1. Increasing institutional capacity and cooperation;
  2. Coordinating efforts to guarantee security and combat organized crime.

Major Area 3: Developing culture, tourism, and contacts among people

The Danube region is famed for its history and traditions, its culture and art, its remarkable regional diversity, and its natural heritage. The natural heritage of the Danube delta is of global importance, and offers excellent opportunities for sport and other forms of recreation. Through farsighted and consistent planning, the region’s advantages can be improved and promoted so that the Danube region becomes synonymous with the highest quality – not only in Europe, but around the world.  

The coordination of efforts to achieve this goal is the responsibility of every member state, along with participating nations outside of the European Union (with the exception of decisions that are solely within the scope of each nation, such as matters of national security, capital crimes, and combating organized criminal activity). This international coordination requires consultation with the European Commission, responsible agencies of the European Union, and regional organizations.

Those coordinating major areas of concern must demonstrate their commitment to the entire Danube river region, while relying on the findings of experts to ensure success. (For example, agreement should be reached primarily through planning with specific goals in mind, as illustrated by appropriate supporting materials, so as to secure broadly-based consensus among project organizers and analysts and those providing the financial resources, as confirmed by parties responsible for providing technical aid and advice.)   

The coordinators of Major Area 3 are Bulgaria and Rumania, but the European Commission will also provide assistance through national collaborative institutions such as the Bulgarian Ministry for Regional Growth and Development. In addition, the Ministry of Economics, Energy, and Tourism is the institution responsible for coordinating efforts with Rumania to implement the Strategy, and this ministry is also responsible for inaugurating initiatives and projects to promote national and trans-national development.

For further information on this subject, please contact: www.ec.europa.eu/regional_ policy/cooperation/danube/documents_en.htm

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