Macro-regional EU Strategy for the Danube Region
In June 2009, the European Council asked formally the European Commission to prepare an EU Strategy for the Danube Region (the so-called Danube Strategy) before the end of 2010. Following the model of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, this macro-regional strategy of the European Union aims at deepening cooperation of the Danube basin countries and other stakeholders (Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) in order to enhance sustainable development and competitiveness of this part of Europe.
Source: European Commission
Preparation of the Danube Strategy
The preparation of the Danube Strategy and the related Action Plan has been led by the European Commission; it is to be conducted in two phases. During the first phase, which was concluded in June 2010, the Commission organised a public consultation regarding the Strategy. The consultation was conducted via a special web page, where the interested parties could publish their proposals and initiatives. In addition to this public consultation and five public conferences, there were several round tables which were hosted by the European Parliament also on the initiative of Slovenian MEPs who have supported the Danube Strategy from the very beginning.
Conference on financing and implementing the Danube Strategy, Belgrade, 27. 9. 2010
The public consultation has been followed by the drafting of the Strategy and its Action Plan. The Commission published the Strategy on 8 December 2010.
Thereafter, it will be discussed in the EU Council. Its final adoption by the European Council on 24 June 2011 and its implementation will be among the key priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Council.
Two meetings of heads of government and other high representatives of the Danube countries were organised in support of the deepening of collaboration pursuant to the Danube Strategy. The first summit was organised on 25 February 2010 in Budapest and the second on 8 November 2010 in Bucharest. On both occasions, which were also attended by Slovenian representatives, political declarations were adopted.
Fundamental principles of the Strategy
The Danube Strategy follows the principles of financial, institutional and legislative neutrality, i.e. cooperation is to take place without establishing any new institutions, adopting new legal acts or mobilising additional funds from the EU budget. The crucial feature of macro-regional integration is not in establishing new institutions or looking for new ways of spending the EU budget, but in closer and better coordinated cooperation of the existing institutions and more efficient use of the available funds from the European, national and other sources.
The proposed areas of cooperation
The Strategy provides for closer cooperation in eleven priority areas of cooperation, which are integrated in four pillars:
I. Connecting the Danube Region
1. To improve mobility and multimodality;
a. inland waterways
b. road, rail and air links
2. To encourage more sustainable energy;
3. To promote culture and tourism: people to people contacts;
II. Protecting the environment in the Danube Region
4. To restore and maintain the quality of waters;
5. To manage environmental risks;
6. To preserve biodiversity, landscapes and the quality of air and soils;
III. Building prosperity in the Danube Region
7. To develop the knowledge of society through research, education and information technologies;
8. To support the competitiveness of enterprises, including cluster development;
9. To invest in people and skills;
IV. Strengthening the Danube Region
10. To step up institutional capacity and cooperation;
11. To work together to promote security and tackle organised and serious crime.
Two countries in the region will be responsible for the implementation of each priority area and for steering the related activities. On 3 February 2011, the Commission announced priority area coordinators. Slovenia was entrusted with the coordination of priority areas “To improve mobility and multimodality - road, rail and air links” (coordinated by the Ministry of Transport) and “To step up institutional capacity and cooperation” (coordinated by the Centre of Excellence in Finance).
In order to make the implementation of the Strategy efficient, it is accompanied by an Action Plan. Within each of the eleven priority areas, key problems and deficiencies in the region are to be pointed out and a series of cases with concrete projects aimed at remedying the problems are also presented in the Action Plan. This document is of an open nature, and therefore will be appropriately supplemented in the future.
Slovenia and the Danube Strategy
Slovenia, being an integral part of the Danube basin, supports the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and has actively participated therein from the very beginning. Slovenia believes that closer and more coordinated cooperation between the countries and other stakeholders in this part of Europe, based on concrete projects of broader interest, can contribute in many respects to more successful sustainable development of the region and its competitiveness in a wider area.
The Danube Strategy is the first EU macro-regional strategy which extends well beyond the EU territory. Regardless of the fact that the Strategy is an EU document on development, Slovenia believes that its implementation cannot be effective without close cooperation with those countries of the Danube basin that are not (yet) members of the Union.
Slovenia made its positions and concrete project proposals public in two written contributions (see under Documents). They both underline that the essence of macro-regional strategies – such as the Danube Strategy – is not in creating new institutions or looking for new ways of spending the EU budget, but in closer cooperation of the existing institutions and more efficient use of the available funds. If real progress is to be achieved by means of this Strategy, its implementation must focus on a smaller number of priorities and a smaller number of concrete, realistic and target-oriented projects with actual added value for the region and its population. In this context, it is also of utmost importance that a close connection with the implementation of the EU2020 Strategy is established.
At the national level, the Danube Strategy is coordinated by the Government Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Development and European Affairs, while the line ministries are in charge of the preparation and implementation of particular areas of cooperation and concrete projects.
Public presentation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Ljubljana, 26 February 2011 (photo: PEK)
The public presentation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and Slovenia's related activities and initiatives was held in Center Evropa on 26 January 2010.
The representatives of the European Commission, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Council, as well as line ministries and other non-governmental players that contribute to the Strategy with their initiatives and concrete proposals participated in this event.
European Union Strategy for Danube Region- Action Plan, 8 December 2010
EU Strategy for the Danube Region - First contribution by Slovenia, 24 February 2010
International workshop on project development in the framework of the Danube Region Strategy, which was organised - in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission - by the Centre of Excellence in Finance as PAC 10 - Strengthening of Institucional Capacity and Cooperation
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(Last change: 14 July 2012)