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December 4, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

Celebrating the first year of the EU Strategy for the Danube region – Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy made a speech celebrating the first year of the EU Strategy for the Danube region at the First Annual Forum of the EU Danube Strategy in Regensburg.  This Annual Forum, organised in cooperation between the Government of Bavaria and the European Commission, is the first meeting of its kind since the launch of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region in 2011.

Entitled “How can the Danube Region help build a more competitive Europe?” the conference  encouraged reflection on the potential contribution of the macro-regional perspective to Europe’s growth.

The following is an extract:

What has been achieved so far?

  • A solid platform for long-term cooperation has now been put in place.
  • Better cooperation at operational level in the 11 Priority Areas – here is now a clear framework for all the countries of the Danube to tackle shared issues and exploit common potential together.
  • A number of concrete projects which have started in many priority areas.
  • Visible progress on transport – Danube Bridge between Bulgaria and Romania and are now very close to removing an important bottleneck on Corridor IV.
  • Last June, the Danube Region Ministers of Transport adopted a declaration on the maintenance of the Danube waterway, committing themselves to concrete measures to maintain good navigation conditions as much as possible.
  • The Danube Business Forum created. The first forum in November 2011 brought together 300 SMEs and over 200 business-to-business meetings took place. The second forum has just taken place two weeks ago and a third one is already scheduled for 2013.

Areas of concern:

  • The main concern relates to patchy participation in the coordination work –  strong participation from all countries in all priority areas is required.  The whole point of the strategy is to design and implement common policies, shared by all.

Key questions to reflect upon include:

  • How can  cooperation mechanisms be improved and how to integrate the Danube dimension more systematically in our policies at regional, national and EU levels.
  • Proposals to ensure we make the most of the next programming period of Cohesion Policy are required. 2013 will be a key year in this process as negotiations start on Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes.

Interesting facts :

The Danube Region is home to more than 115 million people. The Danube’s catchment area is shared by eight EU Member States and six non-EU countries. The part of the region located in the European Union makes up one fifth of the EU’s territory and the region’s economy, competitiveness and wellbeing are intricately linked to that of the Union as a whole.

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