The Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region came to a close on Tuesday (October 29, 2013), at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest.
At the end of the Forum, conclusions were set forth by Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, the Mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, and Omar Al-Rawi, representative of the City Council of Vienna – which will play host next year to the 3rd Forum of the EUSDR.
In the conclusions he presented, Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean underscored the specific results of the Bucharest forum, i.e. the joint declaration of the Danube foreign ministers, the conclusions agreed upon and the main directions of action to be followed by the ministers of regional development, who met for the first time in this format on the occasion of the Danube Forum. "The steps that we need to take in order to implement the strategy have become clearer. The foreign ministers have adopted a joint declaration; in their turn the ministers of regional development agreed on the main directions of action /…/ The complementarity of the two ministerial meetings, and the synergy between them and the debates at the Danube Forum illustrate the clear message that the political will already demonstrated needs to be translated into better coordinated action and integrated projects," stated the head of Romanian diplomacy.
Minister Titus Corlatean also pointed up the fact that ensuring the financing resources from European funds in the next period for the Danube Strategy is essential. To accomplish this it is necessary to embed the goals of the Strategy in operational programs, and also to earmark funds from national and regional budgets, to attract private funds and determine greater involvement of the financial institutions.
In his turn, Commissioner Dacian Cioloş underscored the importance of allotting resources for the Strategy within the 2014-2020 financial framework: "It is important that the strategic orientation documents of member states should contain clear reference to the Danube Strategy, the same as the operational programs of the countries in the region." Dacian Cioloş further opined that the event in Bucharest proved that there exists clear political commitment to the Danube Strategy and expressed the European Commission’s support for its implementation.
The Mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, stated that the link between Romania’s capital city and the Danube is the pillar of a major investment, designed to develop a future region of about 8,000 square kilometers, or the area covered by the Danube in Romania and Bulgaria.
The works on the second day of the Forum comprised thematic workshops structured around the strategy’s pillars: Danube region connectivity; green Danube region; smart and inclusive Danube region; effective, attractive and safe Danube region. The debates touched on thematic goals like knowledge of the key actors and facilitating contacts between them, exchanges of experience about successful initiatives, identification of opportunities and potential financing sources.
The debates comprised specific measures, presentations of projects, problems emerging in implementing certain projects. In the conclusions, Colin Wolfe, Head of Competence Centre, DG REGIO, European Commission, showed that the Danube Strategy was an instrument used in strengthening the complementarity, coherence and collaboration between the programs and policies of a EU region, to the end of solving in an integrated manner, with the existing means and resources (structural and investment European funds), the goals identified as being shared by several states and which, by their nature, cannot be achieved in isolation. Moreover, he underscored the importance of including the Danube dimension in the operational programs currently being developed.
During the second part of the day, a plenary session on "Financing the Danube Strategy", moderated by José Palma Andrés, Director General with the European Commission, addressed the need to embed the Danube Strategy in the EU programs and to use available financial resources more efficiently. The participants agreed that, for 2014-2020, it is essential to integrate the Danube Strategy in the policies and programs of the EU, such as the European structural and investment funds, the pre-accession instruments, Horizon 2020, COSME, the Connecting Europe Facility, and also encouraged accessing of private funds.
The session on financing the Danube Strategy projects and actions was attended by Liviu Dragnea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration, Dessislava Terzieva, Minister of Regional Development of Bulgaria, Frantisek Palko, State Secretary at Slovakia’s Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development, Ognjen Miric, Director of the Serbian European Integration Office, and Mihai Tănăsescu, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank.
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