What is the EUSDR?
EUSDR is the abbreviation of the European Union Strategy for Danube Region. The Strategy identifies the main priorities and challenge for the Region where better coordination of policies and alignment of already existing financing instruments is needed.
Countries agree on a common vision for the future and implement jointly concrete actions. This requires building on the existing cooperation mechanisms, including the international and intergovernmental bodies in the Region. The Commission, as a body that operates across all the policy domains, is facilitating the creation and implementation of such a strategy. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region sets 4 main pillars for action with 11 priority areas.
Who is responsible for the EUSDR?
In June 2009 the European Council – in its conclusions - has formally asked the European Commission to prepare an EU Strategy for the Danube Region. The Directorate General for Regional Policy coordinated the preparation of the Strategy adopted by the European Commission on 8 December 2010.
The Commission is facilitating and supporting action, but the commitment and practical involvement of all authorities, at national, regional and other levels is needed. Implementation of actions and projects is the responsibility of all, at country, regional, urban and local level. The coordination of each Priority Area is the responsibility of Member States (together with non Member States or regions).
Is EUSDR based on previous experience?
Yes, the EUSDR is drawing on the positive experience of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and is applying, as much as possible, the lessons learned during that process. However, the EUSDR is also based very much on the experiences and context of the Danube Region.
How was the Strategy discussed for the first time?
Many actors - including particularly Austria, Romania, land of Baden-Württemberg and Serbia - before and during the Open Days run by Directorate General for Regional Policy in October 2008 and a Danube event organised by the representation of Baden-Württemberg opened the dialogue and insisted on the opportunity to launch a Danube Strategy after the Baltic Sea Strategy.
How much money is involved?
The Strategy is implemented by mobilising and aligning existing funding to its objectives, where appropriate and in line with overall frameworks. Indeed, much is already available via numerous EU programmes (e.g. EUR 100 billion from Structural Funds 2007-2013, as well as significant IPA and ENPI funds). Project selection procedures could be reviewed to support the agreed aims. There are also other instruments, such as the Western Balkan Investment Framework, blending instrument for grants and loans for candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as the international financing institutions (e.g. EIB: EUR 30 billion 2007-2009, with its support to navigability and depollution). There are national, regional and local resources. Indeed, accessing and combining funding, especially from public and private sources below the EU-level, is crucial.
What is the timetable planned?
The major input phase from the Member States, regional and local authorities and other stakeholders took place in the first half of 2010 with a number of conferences, bilateral meetings and a public consultation. During the second half of 2010 a Communication and an Action Plan was finalised, and adopted by the Commission in December 2010. The Strategy has been endorsed by Member States under the Hungarian Presidency in the first half of 2011. However, it should be noted, that the Strategy is a 'rolling' Plan and that the adoption of the Strategy only marks the start of the implementation phase.
The first annual report on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region will be presented at the end of 2012.
What is the added value for other Member States?
A better Danube Region is better for the European Union as a whole. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region, together with the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, tests a macro-regional working method. It could be viewed as a show case for the benefits of more efficient cooperation and coordination.