Danube Strategy – A New Way of Working

Metropolitan and capital cities, drivers for the development of the macro-region

The European Commission considers that the Danube Region is one of the most important areas in Europe. Along the river lie four capital cities and other capital cities and important metropolitan centers are part of the larger Danube region. Among the issues to be addressed in the region are economic and social disparities, infrastructure deficiencies and environmental risks. The EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007 have created an opportunity to overcome the former division of the area and to fully exploit the potential of the region as an integral part of the European Union. Metropolitan and capital cities areas are important drivers for the development of the entire macro-region: the changed geopolitical context has restored polycentrism and territorial integration as key assets for territorial development.

The Danube Strategy is a strategy of the European Union, of prime concern for those states whose territory lies in the Danube Region, but also of legitimate interest to all member states and the governance structure must recognize this. At the same time, the strategy should be designed to be driven from the bottom up – to respond directly to the wishes and needs of the region, and that’s why the need to establish a management system to marry political coordination at a European level to implementation at a local level. Two points are important: The first is to establish a structure that ensures ownership of those involved. The second is to provide the region with the capacity to act effectively to implement the Danube strategy. This will be a partnership built around selected and visible actions. When it comes to implementation, the strategy works on the basis of an Action Plan, with a coordinator in charge of each policy area, whose job is of ensuring that work goes to plan, all stakeholders are involved and that monitoring takes place.

Doing more for our citizens

It is through Regional Policy that the European Union is most visible to its citizens. In more than 2 million projects people can see the EU at work bringing real benefits close to their concerns. Through the Danube strategy EU shows it can do even more to bring advantages to those who live in the Danube region. Before the end of the year, the Commission’s proposal for the Strategy will be published, a work in progress document, constantly updated to keep pace with political and economic changes. “Just as Europe is not a magic cure for its member’s ills, simply creating a macro region here will not automatically solve our problems. We constantly have to work on our common European house to improve and adapt it in order to be able to tackle the challenges of our time. I want a Danube strategy that delivers results. The energy will come from you: the strategy can only provide the framework for our efforts. The Danube Strategy will contribute to spreading security and prosperity to Europeans wherever they live in the Danube region.” said Commissioner Hahn.

Danube Alliance Magazine No. 1 – October 2010

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