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Laurențiu Rebega: The Danube Strategy and the Future of Romania

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Laurențiu Rebega

”Recently, the implementation of macro-regional strategies and their future post-2020 is on the agenda of the European institutions. For our country, the European Union's Strategy for the Danube Region is of major interest. This strategy was, in 2008, a political initiative of Romania and Austria, with the aim of fostering a concerted and coherent development of the states bordering the river.

Nine EU Member States (Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary) and five non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine) participate in this strategy. The strategy finances projects that have the following objectives: interconnecting the Danube region (improving mobility and multi-modality, encouraging sustainable energy, promoting culture and tourism), protecting the environment (restoring and maintaining water quality, managing environmental risks, preserving biodiversity), improvement of prosperity (development of the knowledge-based society through research, support for the competitiveness of enterprises, etc.) and, finally, the consolidation of the Danube region (improvement of institutional capacity and cooperation, promotion of security and solving problems related to organized criminality and serious crime).

The particularity of these macro-regional strategies is that they do not have a separate budget; the participating states have to use existing funding (European funds, loans from international financial institutions, national funds, etc.). Romania has tried to develop, within the operational programs, mechanisms favouring projects labelled as relevant for the Danube Strategy, either by running separate calls for projects or by awarding additional scores in the final evaluation of projects.

However, there are difficulties in implementation because the Danube Strategy is not an operational program itself, with its own rules, staff and funding. Basically, the strategy is a set of objectives that are being achieved through projects funded under other programs. Besides that, there are 14 participating states at the strategy, with different levels of development and access to funding, with different levels of political support and resources that need to be correlated.

The Committee on Regional Development within the European Parliament, of which I am a member, has drawn up a report on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies, including on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Given the importance of this strategy for Romania, I considered it necessary to formulate a series of amendments to improve the framework for future actions. Thus, I proposed the following:

-        to increase financial resources, involving the private sector, and to strengthen administrative capacity to manage the implementation and coordination of the strategy;

-        to strengthen the role of macro-regional strategies in post-2020 framework regulations;

-        to improve national coordination mechanisms and increase the involvement of all economic and social partners and civil society in order to provide added value to the strategy;

-        to coordinate the financial resources available at different levels and to increase efforts to involve the private sector, as well as the use of other financial instruments to finance projects under the strategy.

Finally yet importantly, I proposed the launch of a new macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region in order to better capitalize on the potential of the Carpathian Mountains.

The submission of these amendments is a follow-up of my efforts to promote the Danube and the Danube Delta. In this context I have organized in June, at Dunavăţul de Jos, the conference on “The Importance of the Danube Delta in the European Ecosystem ".  Let us not forget that the Danube Delta, "the greatest treasure with which nature has endowed our country" (Grigore Antipa), has been on the UNESCO World Heritage for more than 25 years and it was established as a biosphere reserve”.

Analysis by Laurențiu Rebega, Member of European Parliament

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Parlamentul European nu este responsabil de conținutul acestui articol. Articolul este subvenționat din bugetul 400 al Grupului ENL.

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