Brussels, 25 October 2013
Effective spending and good leadership top of the agenda as Regional Policy Commissioner Hahn joins Danube countries in Bucharest
14 countries from Europe's Danube "macro region" will gather for this year's Danube Forum in Bucharest on Monday October 28. Hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the Forum will discuss how to strengthen the impact of the EU's Danube Strategy to tackle some of the region's most pressing challenges like energy security and pollution, crime, missing transport links to lack of competitiveness and the brain drain.
Foreign and Regional Development Ministers will join Commissioner Hahn to take stock of current achievements and challenges, assess progress to date and reflect on the future implementation of the Danube Strategy.
The meeting comes after the recent endorsement by EU Member States of the European Commission's evaluation report on the added value of the macroregional strategies. This report delivered a positive verdict on the macroregional approach: highlighting its hundreds of new projects, joint initiatives and important networks which bring together EU and non EU countries alike to solve common problems. But the report also reminded governments of the need for more political commitment and leadership and to make the strategy a priority across all relevant policy areas.
Speaking ahead of the 2nd Annual Danube Forum, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn commented: "In the two years after its launch, the Danube Strategy is demonstrating that by working together, we can have a far greater impact than if we try to tackle problems purely at a national level. I am pleased with the progress made since we last met in Regensburg. But, as the evaluation report highlights, if we want to ensure lasting success, we need stronger commitment and ownership by the regions themselves, delivering concrete actions backed up by enough resources to improve the competitiveness of the Danube Region. More than ever before, Member States should increase their efforts to find common solutions for common challenges."
The debate also comes at a crucial stage of the negotiations for the future programmes 2014-2020. "I count on the Member States to ensure that the Danube Strategy is properly embedded in the future generation of programmes under regional policy 2014-2020, as well as other relevant EU, regional and national policy frameworks" said Commissioner Hahn.
The EU's Danube Strategy was launched in April 2011. It involves 9 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova). Designed to coordinate European Union policies across the Danube macro region, it is based on the idea that common challenges faced by specific regions – whether environmental, economic or security related – are best tackled collectively. By involving EU neighbouring countries at an equal level, the Danube Strategy also brings the countries in the Western Balkans, Moldova and the regions of the Ukraine closer to the Union.
The 2nd Annual Forum in Bucharest "Danube Region – stronger together, stronger in the world" will bring together over 800 representatives from the private sector, regional businesses, civil society, academia and media in the Danube Region, as well as various policy-makers. Held on October 28-29, it is jointly organised by the Romanian government and the European Commission. The 3rd Annual Forum will be hosted by the City of Vienna (Austria) in June 2014.
Examples of projects:
The Danube Shipwreck Removal project aims to remove shipwrecks from the Danube, Sava and Tisa in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria - improving navigation and ecological conditions.
The Danube Region Business Forum, provides an important networking platform for over 300 SMEs. It encourages business-to-business meetings, and supports links with knowledge providers such as research institutes and universities.
Work has started to create a Danube Research and Innovation Fund, pooling national and regional funds, building on the experiences of the BONUS programme in the Baltic Sea Region.
The Danube Floodrisk project promotes cooperation methods with 19 institutions in 8 Danube countries, sharing databases and flood mapping. The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) is carrying out complementary work.
Other Examples of Projects: