EU Science Hub

Danube region – scientific support to policy makers as an integral part of EU strategy

Danube river
Nov 03 2016

The 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) opened on 3 November 2016, in Bratislava. Dedicated to the challenges and perspectives of water management, research and innovation, this two-day event is jointly organised by the Slovak Republic, current chair of the EUSDR, and the European Commission's Directorates-General for Regional and Urban Policy and Joint Research Centre (DG JRC).

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union and Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner in charge of Education, Culture, Youth, Sport and responsible for DG JRC, opened the Annual Forum by offering an overview of the cooperation in the Danube Region. Commissioner Navracsics said: "Solid scientific advice to policymakers is vital in fostering long-term economic growth, job creation and social development. The Joint Research Centre supports the Danube Strategy by providing policymakers of this macro-region with supporting data and tools in the areas of water management, air quality, land and soil preservation and bioenergy generation, for the benefit of citizens, businesses and the environment. This is crucial for the Danube countries: they will need to offer attractive living conditions and career prospects to compete for the most important factor in regional development: human capital."

The plenary session focused on challenges and perspectives of cooperation and regional development, with a particular focus on water management and related research and innovation, as well as on transforming political commitment into policies and action.

After the plenary, over 750 participants from regional and national authorities, higher education and research institutions as well as civil society representatives of the nine EU countries and five non-EU covered by the Danube region split into thematic workshops devoted to knowledge society, skills & competitiveness, water management, transnational governance, operational aspects of the Danube Transnational Programme and the alignment of funds with the Danube Strategy.

On the second day of the forum, the JRC presents some of the latest examples of scientific support provided to Danube Strategy policymakers, including a comparative analysis of causes for air pollution in Budapest, Sofia and Zagreb, and an assessment of the significant biomass potential in the region.

New JRC synthesis centres to improve water quality in the Danube region

Despite significant progress over the last years, wastewater from households and industry remains a significant problem in the lower Danube region. The JRC will present the concept of two feasibility studies for the enhancement and protection of water quality in the Danube region. The studies will provide a practical demonstration of the synthesis centre approach to research, promoted by the JRC. This approach brings together local communities, scientists and businesses to design innovative wastewater treatment solutions. A circular economy approach to the recovery of energy, raw materials and the reuse of water can reduce operating costs and make water treatment more affordable.

JRC and scientific support to the Danube Strategy

The JRC has been supporting the EUSDR since its outset in 2011. The JRC’s "Scientific Support to the Danube Strategy" initiative, launched in 2013 in Bratislava, reached out to about 4.000 stakeholders in national and regional authorities, Science Academies, universities and businesses, offering concrete scientific tools to respond to the challenges in the Danube region.

The scientific support initiative is divided into flagship clusters and activities, addressing challenges from an integrated and cross-cutting perspective. The main topics cover water, land and soil, air and bioenergy. They are complemented by three horizontal activities in the Danube area: i) the Danube Reference Data and Service Infrastructure (DRDSI), providing evidence-based decision-making support to policy-makers and stakeholders with harmonised data sets on various issues such as water and soil quality, population and landscape; ii) the Danube Innovation Partnership (DIP), supporting technology transfer and research commercialisation; and iii) Smart Specialisation in the Danube Region, supporting the design and implementation of Research and Innovation Strategies.

JRC wide hidden block