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.