16 May 2013

Boosting scientific support to Danube strategy

From left to right: Maroa `ef
From left to right: Maroa `ef ovi , Vice President of the European Commission, Slovak Prime Minister H.E. Robert Fico and JRC Director General Dominique Ristori

A high-level event in Bratislava, co-organised by the European Commission and the Government of the Slovak Republic, today launched six scientific clusters to support economic development in the Danube Region. The six clusters will focus on: water; land & soil; bio-energy; air; data exchange & harmonisation; and smart specialisation.  They 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.  

Launched in June 2011, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) aims to boost the development of the Danube Region. This macro-regional strategy relies on an integrated approach to encourage better policy development and the alignment of funding and resources through concrete actions and projects, resulting in a more efficient and better balanced implementation of the EU's overall objectives under Europe 2020.

In November 2011, the JRC launched a scientific cooperation initiative in support of the Danube Strategy focusing on four scientific priorities: environment protection, irrigation and agricultural development, navigability and energy production. As a more transversal priority, the initiative also aims to support the development of research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation.

At a high-level conference on the Scientific Support to the Danube Strategy, organised by the JRC on 24 April 2012 in Brussels key stakeholders from the Danube Region at the political, scientific and industry level discussed the scientific priorities related to the implementation of the Danube Strategy.  A subsequent analysis of the scientific expertise needed to address these priorities revealed that the main gaps in the current scientific landscape concern the cross-cutting study of the interdependencies between the different priorities. The evidence-based analysis of the interactions between different policy areas is indeed essential to design consistent, integrated and sustainable policy mixes for the Danube Region.

Based on these conclusions, the JRC has elaborated on some flagship projects clusters which were presented and validated at a scientific meeting at the JRC site in Ispra (Italy) on 21-22 March 2013. This event gathered more than 130 scientists from various scientific organisations from the Danube region.

Speaking at the high-level event in Bratislava today, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission, said: "The EU Strategy for the Danube Region aims to boost growth and jobs in the area through better policy making and funding. Science can really help by providing evidence-based data to policy makers, helping them to make informed decisions for a region that boasts enormous geopolitical and economic diversity."

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research , Innovation and Science, said: "This is an excellent example of transnational science and policy cooperation, setting a benchmark for the EU and beyond. These clusters can boost scientific and economic performance in the region."