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European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

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European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

Following a request from the European Council, the Commission presents a strategy aimed at developing the Danube Region in a coherent and sustainable way. Emphasis is placed on mobility, energy, innovation, the environment, risk management and security.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 December 2010, European Union Strategy for Danube Region [COM(2010) 715 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Danube Region has more than 100 million inhabitants and represents one fifth of European Union (EU) surface. It is therefore a vital region for Europe. The fourteen countries along the Danube, of which nine are EU Member States, are faced with common challenges.

The Danube Strategy is based on experience gained with the Baltic Sea Region and proposes an integrated Action Plan organised around four pillars:

  • connecting the Danube Region;
  • protecting the environment;
  • building prosperity;
  • strengthening the Region.

Connecting the Danube Region

The Strategy aims at improving mobility and multimodality (the use of several means of transport for a single journey) in the Region by developing sustainable inland navigation and road, rail and air infrastructures.

Furthermore, the energy networks have many gaps and deficiencies, due to insufficient capacity, low quality or poor maintenance. The production of more sustainable energy is to be encouraged.

The Danube Region also has a rich cultural heritage. The Commission therefore wishes to encourage the promotion of culture and tourism so as to give the Region a European and global dimension.

Protecting the Environment

Environmental resources are shared across borders and go beyond national interests. This is particularly true of the Danube Region, which includes mountain areas such as the Carpathians, the Balkans and part of the Alps. As a result, the Region has some of the richest flora and fauna in Europe. However, it has not been spared environmental disasters and pollution. Danube States must take joint measures, and in order to do this the Action Plan proposes to restore and maintain the quality of waters, to manage environmental risks, and to preserve biodiversity, landscapes and the quality of air and soils.

Building Prosperity

The Region includes some of the most competitive areas in the EU but also the poorest, the most highly skilled and the least educated, and the highest and lowest standards of living. In order to overcome disparities in education and employment, and to promote social inclusion, the Action Plan aims to develop the knowledge society through research, education and information technologies. It also seeks to support the competitiveness of enterprises and to invest in people and skills. Marginalised communities (including Roma, the majority of whom live in the Region) should benefit in particular.

Strengthening the Region

The dramatic changes since 1989 transformed society. Particular attention is needed as the Danube Region includes Member States which have joined at different moments, as well as countries applying for EU membership and other third countries. Most face similar problems, but with different resources available. Thus, in order to improve institutional capacity, cooperation and security, the Action Plan proposes to work together to promote more efficient administration of security matters and to tackle organised and serious crime.

The strategy seeks to contribute to more effective use of available funds. Countries need to make sure that the Strategy is systematically integrated in the policy and funding for 2014-2020.

The Commission is supporting and facilitating the process. It is assisted by a High Level Group composed of representatives of all Member States. In collaboration with the Danube States that are not Members of the EU, the Member States are responsible for coordinating each priority area. All levels of power (national, regional, municipal and local) are to participate in implementing the actions. The Commission produces reports in order to monitor development and progress.


The Strategy is the result of a public consultation and debates between stakeholders. It contributes to the Europe 2020 Strategy for sustainable and intelligent growth. The Member States concerned are Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.


Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions concerning the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region [COM(2013)181 final - not published in the Official Journal] - The report outlines progress made in tackling the Region's problems ranging from missing transport links and lack of competitiveness, to pollution and crime. The 14 participating countries - among them 9 EU Member States - are working together on a variety of shared projects and initiatives.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies. [COM(2013) 468 final - not published in the Official Journal] - This report is a first evaluation of the EU's first two macro-regional strategies (for the Baltic and Danube). The strategies have generated broadly positive results in terms of joint projects and initiatives, as well as political decisions. Cooperation between the participating EU countries and neighbouring non-EU countries has been significantly strengthened and that has resulted in more efficient use of the resources available.

However, the report reminds governments of the need for political commitment and for making the strategies a priority across all relevant policy areas, ensuring they are embedded in future EU, regional and national policy frameworks. It also underlines the importance of having the appropriate administrative resources to deliver the objectives.

As to future macro-regional strategies, the report warns that new initiatives should only be launched to address particular needs for improved and high-level cooperation. There must be readiness to translate political commitment into administrative support, and new strategies should clearly demonstrate the particular added-value at EU level.

Last updated: 17.01.2014