New plans to develop economic potential, improve the environment and increase security.
With a population of 100m and covering parts of 14 countries, including eight EU members, the Danube basin is home to some of Europe's poorest regions - and also some of its richest.
The strategy for the Danube region encourages long-term cooperation to tackle a wide range of local problems, boosting economic development, improving transport and energy connections, protecting the environment, and strengthening security.
Economic development – increased investment in education and research aims to even out the disparities in economic development and living standards.
Transport – one target is to increase cargo transport on the Danube by 20% by 2020. The ageing cargo fleet currently operating on the Danube moves only 10-20% the volume transported on the Rhine. There will also be a focus on developing the region's road and rail networks.
Energy – connecting the region's energy markets will help prevent a recurrence of the electricity and fuel shortages of recent winters. The resulting increase in competition should also reduce costs to consumers.
Environment – new water treatment plants will improve water quality and reduce pollution from untreated sewage and fertilisers flowing into the river. The strategy includes projects to promote eco-technologies and biodiversity.
Security – projects include increasing the region's ability to tackle organised crime and removing landmines laid during recent regional conflicts.
Although no new additional funding is planned, the Commission aims to more effectively use current funds, such as the €100bn available from the EU's regional development fund. The strategy is likely to be endorsed by EU governments in the first half of 2011.
The EU countries in the Danube region are Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.
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