EU Strategy for the Danube Region
In June 2009, the European Commission adopted the first macro-regional strategy – the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the Strategy being approved by the European Council in December 2009. The reason for the preparation of macro-regional strategies, despite the fact that numerous programs and types of territorial co-operation on the territory and with the support of the European Union already exist, lies in the need for targeted solutions to environmental concerns, transport accessibility, development disparities and other growing problems within larger macro-regions. Approach to the preparation of macro-regional strategies involves better integration of priority projects around identified common problems on the territory concerned, as well as more efficient use of available funds, primarily European structural funds. The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region has four main pillars: environmental sustainability (reducing pollution in the Baltic Sea), regional prosperity (encouraging innovation within SMEs), accessibility and attractiveness (better transport links) and safety and security (response to accidents). The text of the Strategy is followed by an action plan containing 70 actions and 80 major projects. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) was prepared following the same model. The EUSDR was adopted by the European Commission in December 2010, and approved by the European Council in April 2011.
The EU Danube Strategy includes parts of or the entire territory of the 14 member countries of the Danube Cooperation Process (Germany - state of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine - Zakarpats’ka oblast, Ivano-Frankivs’ka oblast’, Chernivets’ka oblast’ and Odes’ka oblast’). These countries are also signatories to the Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable use of the Danube River, and the members of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). National/regional contributions were prepared in consultation with the European Commission and discussed during meetings of national coordinators and their collaborators, organized in different Danube countries. The principle of THREE NOs was applied during the preparation of the Strategy, meaning: no new funds, no new structures and no new legislation.
Working group of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to draft a "Comprehensive common EU strategy for the Danube region" was established on September 24th, 2009. It gathered representatives of ten ministries, as well as of the Government of Vojvodina and the European Integration Office, the national coordinator being Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration. The Working Group was quickly extended to include representatives of other institutions of national significance, such as the Republic Agency for Spatial Planning. During several months, the Working group prepared a number of versions of a national EUSDR platform, a document entitled “Position of the Republic of Serbia in Respect to Participation in the Preparation of a Comprehensive EU Strategy for the Danube Region” being adopted by the Government on March 18th, 2010 (text amended on June 10th, 2010). In addition to internal meetings of the Working Group, a number of gatherings with different stakeholders (local self-governments, business sector, scientific community, etc.) was organised in order to shape the content of the contribution of Serbia to EUSDR, as well as to bring closer the objectives and importance of the Danube strategy to a larger public which could then recognized in it its own specific interests.
The EUSDR Action plan has four Pillars and eleven Priority Areas:
- Connecting the Danube Region:
1) To improve mobility and multimodality
2) To encourage more sustainable energy
3) To promote culture and tourism, people to people contacts
- 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
- Building Prosperity in the Danube Region:
7) To develop the knowledge society through research, education and information technologies
8) To support the competitiveness of enterprises, including cluster development
9) To invest in people and skills
- 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.
Republic Agency for Spatial Planning is the member of the Working Group 3: Regional cooperation within the Priority area 10: To step up institutional capacity and cooperation. Based in Vienna, this priority area is jointly coordinated by Austria and Slovenia.
Implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region should be strengthen through projects that will be executed under the new transnational cooperation programme - Danube Programme 2014-2020.
In cooperation with countries and regions concerned, the European commission is preparing two more macro-regional strategies - EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region and EU Strategy for the Alpine Region.