EU Strategy for the Danube Region
Six new scientific clusters to support Danube strategy
The European Commission and scientists and policy makers from the 14 Danube Region countries have today launched six scientific clusters to support economic development in the region. The six clusters will focus on: water; land & soil; bio-energy; air; data exchange & harmonisation; and smart specialisation. Presented at a high-level meeting in Bratislava today, the clusters will provide scientific evidence to support the Danube Strategy, and will also serve to foster scientific cooperation across the region. The launch event today was attended amongst others by the Slovak Prime Minister H.E. Robert Fico and the Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič (MEMO/13/441).
Danube Strategy Progress Report: A good start, now it's time to move up a gear
The European Commission has released the first progress report on the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region, almost two years after it was first launched.
Commenting on the findings of the Report, Commissioner Johannes Hahn, said: “The EU Strategy for the Danube Region is proof that Member States achieve more when they work together. Now we need to step up a gear. I want to see the priorities of the Danube Strategy in our next generation of Regional funds programming and firmly embedded in the national, regional and local priorities in every one of the 14 countries involved. The Strategy should be informing every relevant policy area with politically stable, adequately financed structures to support it."
Today's Report details significant achievements in tackling problems from missing transport links and lack of competitiveness, to pollution and crime. The 14 participating countries – among them 8 EU Member States. are working together successfully on numerous shared projects and initiatives in the four main pillars of the Strategy - Connecting the Danube Region, Protecting the Environment, Building Prosperity and Strengthening the Danube Region.
Commissioner Hahn is calling on the Danube governments to follow up on their political commitments by making the Strategy a priority across all relevant policy areas, urging the 8 EU members involved, as well as Croatia, to incorporate the Strategy into their plans for the next generation of programmes under Regional Policy for 2014-20.
1st Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region
The 1st Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), co-organised by the European Commission and Bavaria, took place in Regensburg on 27-28 November. In opening the Conference, Commissioner Hahn highlighted the Strategy work as key to Cohesion Policy as engine of growth. In a centre-piece speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the EU Strategy for the Danube Region as a new way to overcome 20th century division and conflicts in the Region, and as an important impulse for overall socio-economic development. It attracted more than 600 high level participants from the Region, including Ministers, showing the commitment of the countries to the Strategy.
This first Forum provided the overall possibility to discuss the implementation of the Strategy, to reflect on its added value and to assess best ways forward. The discussion started through two plenary sessions which address the strengths and the weakness of the region and what the Strategy can do for them. During the second day, the participants joined 6 workshops that tried to tackle the specific issues and challenges of the Strategy. Although the conference was focused on the Strategy, these two days were also the occasion for a broader discussion on the challenges for the Region in its global perspective. Indeed the title was 'How can the Danube Region can help to build a more competitive Europe?".
As stated by Commissioner Hahn, and confirmed by the other speeches throughout the two days of Forum, the Strategy is the key in the Region to promote growth and development. The key speakers at ministerial level underlined the role the EUSDR was now playing in more coordinated investments, ecological and economic development in the Region. They also emphasised the strategic aspect of more fully bringing this part of Europe - including candidate, potential candidate or neighbouring countries - into the EU frames. Also Chancellor Merkel underlined the positive role of the Strategy in facilitating the integration pre and post accession of the countries. The Chancellor emphasised that this had to come from EU level, and that EU cohesion policy is an important motor for growth. This Strategy brought the EU closer to the people.
A strategy to boost the development of the Danube Region was proposed by the European Commission on 8 December 2010 (Commission Communication - EU Strategy for the Danube Region). Member States endorsed the EU Strategy for the Danube Region at the General Affairs Council on 13 April 2011 (Council Conclusions).
For news and information on the activities and progress of the Strategy, please visit the EUSDR's dedicated website www.danube-region.eu
What’s the issue?
The Danube region covers parts of 8 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania) and 6 non-EU countries (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova).
- The region is facing several challenges:
- environmental threats (water pollution, floods, climate change)
- untapped shipping potential and lack of road and rail transport connections
- insufficient energy connections
- uneven socio-economic development
- uncoordinated education, research and innovation systems
- shortcomings in safety and security
Better coordination and cooperation between the countries and regions is needed to address these challenges.
Who will benefit and how?
The people living in the Danube Region will benefit from:
- faster transport by road and rail
- cleaner transport by improving the navigability of rivers
- cheaper and more secure energy thanks to better connections and alternative sources
- a better environment with cleaner water, protected biodiversity, and cross-border flood prevention
- a prosperous region, through working together on the economy, education, social inclusion, and research and innovation
- attractive tourist and cultural destinations, developed and marketed jointly
- a safer, well-governed region, thanks to better cooperation and coordination of government and non-governmental organisations
The EU has identified 11 priority areas, which will focus on improving:
- transport connections
- energy connections
- the environment
- socio-economic development
The Strategy does not come with extra EU finance but it is supported from the resources already available according to an integrated approach. Countries may also make use of the funding they receive through EU cohesion policy, other EU programmes and financial instruments, and various international financial institutions.
To know more about financial opportunities visit www.danube-region.eu/pages/funding-opportunities
Why does action have to be taken by the EU?
- Since 2007, the majority of the countries in the Danube region are EU countries.
- Many of the problems are covered by EU policy.
- As an independent player with respected authority, the EU is in a good position to facilitate cooperation.
- The EU already runs programmes in the region and so can provide opportunities for cooperation.
To get in contact with the EUSDR team in DG REGIO, please email Regioemail@example.com
To know more about the actors involved visit www.danube-region.eu/pages/who-is-who