EU Strategy for the Danube region kicks off successfully

More than 400 participants from 19 countries gathered in Ulm (Baden-Wurttemberg) on 2 February for the first conference on the development of an EU Strategy for the Danube region. This was the first in a series of consultation meetings by the Commission to shape the content of the Danube Strategy as requested by the European Council.

DG Regional Policy organized in Ulm (Baden-Wurttemberg) a conference on the EU Danube Strategy. The conference included four workshops on connectivity and communication systems, environment, water and risk prevention, socio-economic, human and institutional development, and on governance. This strategy for the Danube region follows the example of the Baltic Sea Strategy, adopted in October.

High-level representatives, included Commissioner Paweł Samecki, Rosen Plevneliev, Minister for Regional Development and Public Works in Bulgaria, Environment Minister László Borbély from Romania, Bozidar Djelic, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, as well as ministers from Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria, attended to the conference.

In his opening speech, Mr Samecki identified three specific issues that all countries in the Danube Basin would have to address jointly within the EU Danube Strategy:

  • Major economic and social disparities which persist from pre-1990 times
  • Environmental issues, e.g. water quality and biodiversity.
  • Infrastructure improvements.

As the Danube region is to a large extent a region of the EU, many EU policies, instruments and funding possibilities can be deployed. In addition, the EU allows co-operation between countries by working within existing European structures. The Commission can provide its expertise and independence in the delivery of cross-border and transnational co-operation programmes.

The consultation process will continue until early summer with further events planned in Hungary at the end of February, Austria and Slovakia (April), Bulgaria (May), Romania (June), and a public consultation, which has already been launched. The Commission intends to propose an action plan and a governance system in December 2010, scheduled for discussion in early 2011 under the Hungarian Presidency.