On 8 December 2010, the European Commission adopted the EU Strategy for the Danube Region following a request from Member States. This is a comprehensive Strategy, covering several Community policies and targeting a 'macro-region'. The Strategy takes the form of a Communication and an Action Plan which will be reviewed regularly. Implementation of the Strategy will start following endorsement by Member States during the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in April 2011.
What’s the issue?
The Danube region covers parts of 8 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania) and 6 non-EU countries (Croatia, 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.
Who will benefit and how?
The 115 million 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
What exactly would change?
The EU has identified 11 priority areas, which will focus on improving:
Although the strategy will not come with extra EU finance, a considerable amount of funding is already available to the region through a host of EU programmes. For instance, € 100 billion alone has been allocated from the cohesion policy (European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Social Fund) between 2007 and 2013. Moreover, 41 Territorial Cooperation programmes cover a geographical area including the Danube Region.
The aim is to use this available support to greater effect and show how macro-regional cooperation can help tackle local problems.
Regional Policy Inforegio - Territorial Cooperation