European Commission Unveils Proposed Strategy for Danube Region

9 December 2010: The European Commission has released a proposal for an EU Strategy for the Danube Region, aimed at developing sustainable growth and environmental protection. By establishing a framework for long-term cooperation on a wide range of issues, the Strategy is expected to contribute to improving sustainable transport, linking energy systems, protecting the environment, preserving water resources and stimulating business.

The proposed strategy contains a detailed action plan based on four pillars: connecting the Danube Region, including by improving mobility, encouraging sustainable energy and promoting culture and tourism; protecting the environment in the Danube Region, including by restoring water quality, managing environmental risks and preserving biodiversity; building prosperity in the Danube Region, including by developing research capacity, education and information technologies, supporting the competitiveness of enterprises and investing in people's skills; and strengthening the Danube Region. The strategy is open-ended, but includes a number of time-bound targets to mobilize effort, including: reducing nutrients to restore ecosystems of the Black Sea to 1960 levels by 2020; securing a viable population of Danube sturgeons by 2020; achieving the environmental targets set out in the Danube River Basin Management Plan; implementing the Danube wide flood risk management plans - to include significant reduction of flood risk by 2021, also taking into account potential impacts of climate change; drawing up effective management plans for all Natura 2000 sites; and reducing by 25% the area affected by soil erosion exceeding ten tons per hectare by 2020.

The Danube Region encompasses 14 countries facing challenges such as untapped shipping potential, lack of road and rail connections, uncoordinated efforts in education, research and innovation, and environmental threats. While there are no new funds for implementation of the strategy, closer alignment of programmes adopted by the Danube States is expected to increase the impacts of the €100 billion available to the region under the EU cohesion policy (European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Social Fund) for the period 2007-2013. [EU Press Release][The Draft Strategy]