EU Strategy for the Danube Region

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    Today, the 9th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), hosted by the current Croatian Presidency of the EUSDR, will take place fully online. This year’s focus will be on the harmonious and sustainable development of the Danube Region, with special attention to the current coronavirus pandemic and the Green Deal.

    Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “I am very happy that the chosen topic of this year’s Forum is linked to the EU’s initiative of the Green Deal, which the Commission launched at the end of 2019. Moreover, the online meeting among Danube regional stakeholders comes at the right moment so to best coordinate on how to spend the next EU budget and the extraordinary coronavirus related measures.”

    The Danube Strategy was formally created in April 2011 to increase coordination among decision-makers of the Danube area where 115 million inhabitants live. The EUSDR involves 14 countries, and it is the largest and most diverse macro-regional strategy: nine EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, parts of Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia), three accession countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) and two neighbouring countries (Moldova, parts of Ukraine).

    More details in the Annual Forum 2020 programme

    The registration to the fully virtual 9th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) on 22 October 2020 is still open.  

    The event, hosted by the Croatian Presidency of the EUSDR, will be headlined under the theme of a Harmonious and sustainable development of the Danube Region and includes welcome addresses of Commissioner Elisa Ferreira and of Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković. 

    Check also the programme of the 7th Danube Participation Day on 21 October 2020 and registe. 

    This side event will kick-start the 9th Annual Forum by passing the floor to the youth to hear and boost their ideas and visions for a better Danube region they live in. The “Manifesto for young people by young people to shape the European territorial cooperation, which was already presented at the Interreg Annual Event 2020, will be point of the discussion to pass the 12 recommendations of young people to decision-makers on how to make territorial cooperation and macro-regional strategies more participatory to the youth in the future.


    For more information about the EUSDR



    On 23 September 2020, the European Commission adopted the third biennial report [COM(2020)578], covering the period from mid-2018 to mid-2020, on the implementation of the four EU macro-regional strategies (MRS): the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP).

    The report is published at a time when the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic, fiscal and social impacts on the European society. Therefore, in addition to assessing the state of implementation of the MRS, the report also considers the role that MRS can play in addressing the crisis through coordinated actions.

    In terms of achievements, the report focuses on the three, broad, interconnected priorities that all four MRS have in common: environment and climate change; research & innovation and economic development; and connectivity (transport, energy, digital networks). These three priorities are closely connected with key actions of the European Green Deal as well as the European Digital Agenda and ‘An economy that works for people’.

    As examples of concrete achievements in the period covered by the report, the MRS have:

    • helped improve water quality through a better management of hazardous substances being released into the Baltic Sea and a better monitoring of the Adriatic-Ionian Seas;
    • helped enhance the water status of the Danube river through reinforced cooperation between river basin management planning and flood risk prevention;
    • helped develop the conditions for ecological connectivity in the Alpine region by deploying green infrastructure;
    • supported knowledge capitalisation and sharing research and innovation in the Alpine and the Danube regions;
    • promoted energy efficient inland waterway transport by contributing to the implementation of the ‘Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan’;
    • supported the sustainable development of transport corridors in the Baltic Sea region and the distribution and supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for maritime transport in the Adriatic-Ionian region.

    Full details on achievements in all priority areas of each MRS are to be found in the staff working document accompanying the report [SWD(2020)186].

    The MRS are a powerful tool to support economic, social and territorial development and integration, and to foster good relations with neighbouring countries. They are also a flexible tool to react to new global challenges. The MRS provide a ready and operational cooperation framework to ensure better coordination of actions, investments and projects within their territories. For all these reasons, they can play a significant role in helping MRS countries and regions to tackle the post-COVID-19 crisis by implementing, in a coordinated manner, the European Green Deal and the European Digital Strategy, which are the cornerstone of Europe’s growth strategy. In that respect, the report recommends a close coordination between MRS national and thematic coordinators and all relevant stakeholders across the macro-region in the areas in which the MRS have proved their added value.

    As the MRS do not have their own resources, their implementation depends on bundling funding from different sources. Therefore, the success or failure of the MRS is ultimately linked to their capacity to ensure that EU, national, regional, and other public and private funds are aligned with the priorities of the relevant strategy.

    In this regard, in the last two years coordination has been ongoing between MRS national and thematic coordinators and national/regional authorities responsible of EU programmes supported by the European Structural and Investment (ESI), IPA III and NDICI funds. The aim is to ‘embed’ MRS priorities into the next generation (2021-2027) of these national/regional programmes. All four MRS have taken initiatives to accelerate and strengthen this ‘embedding’ process. Efforts should be intensified during the preparation of programmes before their transmission to Brussels. This is vital for the MRS to achieve their economic, social and territorial objectives and to contribute to the post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

    The report also highlights the role that MRS play with regard to the enlargement process. The cooperation between EU Member States and countries of the Western Balkans in the Adriatic-Ionian and Danube strategies enables convergence to EU policies to substantiate their perspective for EU membership. In this context, the inclusion on April 2020 of the Republic of North Macedonia in the Adriatic-Ionian strategy highlighted the attractiveness that this cooperation framework offers to accession countries. Closer synergies between MRS and the enlargement process is key to supporting the EU perspective for the Western Balkans, in line with the EU priority ‘A stronger Europe in the world’. The current involvement on an equal footing of the Western Balkans in the Adriatic-Ionian and the Danube strategies should be further enhanced, including by ensuring their effective participation in implementing the twin green and digital transition.

    Next Steps

    The report and its accompanying staff working document are now transmitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for their consideration.

    More information

More news

The area covered by the EUSDR is mainly the basin of the 2.857 km long Danube River, including also the parts of the mountain ranges where its tributaries originate (like the Alps, or the Carpathians). It stretches from the Black Forest (Germany) to the Black Sea (Romania-Moldova-Ukraine) and is home to around 115 million inhabitants. Involving 14 countries, it is the largest and most diverse macro-regional strategy: nine EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, parts of Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia), three Accession Countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) and two Neighbouring Countries (Moldova, parts of Ukraine).

Map of the Danube region

The Danube Strategy was formally created on 13 April 2011 when the EU Council endorsed the Communication and the accompanying Action Plan on the EUSDR at the General Affairs Council (Council Conclusions). The Action Plan was completely revised in 2019-2020

For news and information on the activities of the Strategy, please visit the EUSDR's dedicated website and explore the interactive video.

The Danube region, one of the largest macro-region is facing several challenges:

    • environmental threats (water pollution, floods, climate change)
    • untapped shipping potential and lack of modern 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 EUSDR 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 the secretary of the REGIO. DDG.D1 :