EU Strategy for the Danube Region

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    Interreg transnational cooperation programmes have been operational for more than 20 years, implementing actions in the framework of the EU Cohesion Policy. These programmes bring together European regions and cities that are located in different countries yet are sharing many challenges and opportunities due to their common geography, history, and culture. 

    The geographic and cultural similarities defining the transnational programme areas provide an excellent basis for cooperation. In transnational projects, actors from the private and public sectors, universities and civil society organisations work closely together to advance new or improved solutions designed to meet the most pressing needs of their populations. But what does that mean in real terms? What do transnational cooperation projects and their results imply for the regions, cities, and citizens? Whilst it is impossible to present the full scope, diversity and added value of transnational cooperation in just a few pages, the publication '10 Things to Know About Transnational Cooperation' aims at providing a flavour of what is the role and achievements of Interreg transnational/interregional programmes across Europe. 

    The document was prepared by an informal working group including representatives from Interreg transnational programmes and Interreg Europe, with the support and facilitation of Interact.

    European Territorial Co-operation 

    The study ‘Macro-regional strategies and their links with cohesion policy’, contracted by Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and conducted by a consortium led by COWI company, aims first at describing the main features of each macro-region (Baltic, Danube, Adriatic and Ionian, and Alpine) through a range of macroeconomic, competitiveness, integration and governance indicators. It assesses to what extent the strategies contribute to coordination and synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds and other EU policies and instruments. The study also takes stock of strategies' main achievements and appraises their socio-economic impact. It also identifies the barriers to overcome and the drivers to use in order to make them more efficient and finally looks at the potential of the macro-regional approach to contribute to the future cohesion policy. 

    This comprehensive study is based on the analysis of existing literature, desk research, interpretation of hundreds of data, and a survey sent to more than six thousands macro-regional stakeholders. The report is composed of five documents: one core report summarising the main findings of the study and one annex per strategy compiling data and findings concerning each of them. 

    Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, are in Budapest today and tomorrow to attend the 6th annual forum of the Danube macro-regional strategy, entitled "A secure, connected and prospering Danube Region". Commissioner Cretu said: "To me there is no greater priority than better connectivity in the region, encompassing land transport and navigability. This is key to unlock the full potential of the Danube Strategy. Political commitment and coordination are crucial here." The Danube Strategy is one of the four macro-regional strategies. It was launched in April 2011, gathering nine EU countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria) and five non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine). The ministers in charge of the Strategy will tomorrow adopt a joint statement setting out principles and priorities for the future – regional energy security, infrastructure development and clean connectivity, which can be boosted with an optimised use of EU funds. Also at the forum, the Commission's Joint Research Centre, for which Commissioner Navracsics is responsible, will present the latest addition to the Commission's Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies, the Territorial Dashboard. This tool visualises data for all EU regions – on the economy, education, employment, health, energy or transport – in a user-friendly way. This will help regional authorities of the Danube region to target investments where they are most needed and where they can have the greatest impact.

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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

The Danube region covers parts of 9 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries ( 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.

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 12 priority areas, which will focus on improving:

  • transport connections
  • energy connections
  • the environment
  • socio-economic development
  • security

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

  • 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