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REGIONAL POLICY : DANUBE STRATEGY GETS ON DRAWING BOARD.

Attending a conference in Vienna on the EU's upcoming Danube strategy, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Hubner, outlined, on 29 June, the "defined steps that we should all be taking to move the preparation process forward". Firstly, an inter-service group will be established to ensure that attention is paid to all possible aspects of the strategy. Several policy areas, including transport, environment and enlargement, have relevance here, and it will be important to rapidly link all the relevant services closely together. Secondly, in the Danube countries themselves, the Commission expects to see key contact persons named at a high level, if this has not been done already. Thirdly, it is expected that regions within countries and also across borders "work together to set out the priorities for the Danube's regions and cities".

The approach used in designing the new strategy is the same as the one that made the Baltic Sea Region a successful project. Thus, identifying the key issues must be the priority in this first stage. In the case of the Danube river, these are related to transport, environment and economics. Regarding transport, the Danube has a "huge potential for increasing the amount of freight being moved on Europe's inland waterways". For the latter two, the the prospects are more modest. Turning to the environment, Hubner said that "there is still too much pollution being pumped into the Danube". In the economic field, despite much discussion and planning, "there has been insufficient delivery of concrete results on the ground".

The strategy could be adopted by the heads of state and government during the first half of 2011, under the Hungarian EU Presidency. Hungary, as well as Austria and Romania, are strongly behind the initiative.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Jul 15, 2009
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