A brand new issue of Danube Region News has just been published. This edition focuses on transport in the Danube Region, with updates from Priority Areas 1a and 1b. The issue also includes an interview with Commissioner Johannes Hahn, an update on the Technical Assistance Facility for Danube Region Projects, and an interview with Imre Csalagovits about the new Danube programme. You can find this newsletter directly on the homepage or in the newsletters section, along with all past issues.

On 22 May the European Commission published a report on the governance of the EU's Macro-Regional Strategies.

The report shows that while the results of individual projects and initiatives in the Baltic Sea and Danube regions are positive even more  political leadership and clearer decision-making is needed to build on the progress so far.

The report recommends changes to improve the impact, results and the sustainability of existing, and particularly future strategies, such as that of the Adriatic-Ionian and Alpine Regions which European Countries have asked for and should be adopted formally later this. This concerns primarily national and regional administrations, but also a wider range of stakeholders, and the European Commission itself.

The second call for project ideas in the framework of the Technical Assistance Facility for Danube Region Projects (TAF-DRP) is now open. Interested organisations are invited to contact the Priority Area Coordinator in charge of the topic addressed by their project idea, to receive further information and an application pack.

For more information about the TAF-DRP please visit the PAC 10 website.

The Danubius Award was created in 2011 by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF) and the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) with the intention to honour individuals with extraordinary scientific achievements and output in relation to the Danube Region. For 2014, it is envisaged to complement this award with a specific prize for young scientists – the so-called “Danubius Young Scientist Award”.

This award will be given to 14 young scientists - one in each country that is part of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region [Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Moldavia, Montenegro, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Romania and the Ukraine]. The award seeks to encourage young scientists to engage in the scientific examination of issues and questions specifically related to the Danube, and to stimulate the scientific community in the Danube region. The award will be endowed with € 1,200.- for each winner of the Young Scientist Award.

For more information about the award and how to apply, please read the official announcement.

Hiroshi Tanaka, professor in the Faculty of Economics of Ritsuemaikan University in Kyoto, Japan, has published a study on macro-regional strategies with a focus on the EUSDR. As a professor and researcher with an interest in regional cooperation, Tanaka is working on a research project concerning the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-region) Development Plan.  Tanaka and a team of Japanese researchers visited INTERACT Point Vienna in the fall of 2013 to learn more about the EUSDR and see how the best practices of the Strategy could be applied in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The report, titled 'EU Macro-Region Strategies: A study of EU Strategy for the Danube Region' is currently only available in Japanese but includes an abstract in English.
Check out the Special Edition:
Second Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region here!
On 27-28 November nearly 300 participants gathered in Zagreb for an international conference on "Research and entrepreneurship partnership for the growth and internationalization of SMEs in Danube Region". With 24 speakers from 8 different countries, the conference aimed to foster stronger interaction of research organisations, small and medium enterprises and regional governments towards creation of innovations as key driver for competitiveness of the Danube Region and Europe.

To learn more about the results of the conference and to download presentation, please visit the PA 8 (Competitiveness) website.
9 countries, 3,000 river kilometres, more than 300 unsalaried experts and approximately 3,000 hours in the field under cold, windy and wintry conditions – these are the pillars for this census which will take place on 12th January 2014. Find out more about this initiative by reading this pre-report by the Austrian Press Agency (german language only) or checking out the DANUBEPARKS Network website (English, German, Serbian & Romanian).

14 countries from Europe's Danube "macro region" will gather for this year's Danube Forum in Bucharest on Monday and Tuesday 28 and 29 October. Hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the Forum will discuss how to strengthen the impact of the EU's Danube Strategy to tackle some of the region's most pressing challenges like energy security and pollution, crime, missing transport links to lack of competitiveness and the brain drain.

Foreign and Regional Development Ministers will join Commissioner Hahn to take stock of current achievements and challenges, assess progress to date and reflect on the future implementation of the Danube Strategy.

The meeting comes after the recent endorsement by EU Member States of the European Commission's evaluation report on the added value of the macroregional strategies. This report delivered a positive verdict on the macroregional approach: highlighting its hundreds of new projects, joint initiatives and important networks which bring together EU and non EU countries alike to solve common problems. But the report also reminded governments of the need for more political commitment and leadership and to make the strategy a priority across all relevant policy areas.

More information

Check the reports section of the website to download the priority area annual reports from June 2013.
Registration for the 2nd Annual Forum of the EUSDR on 28-29 October in Bucharest is now closed. Over 800 registrations were received. To find out more about the conference, visit the new Annual Forum section includes an overview of the forum programme, as well as a list of side events.
In December 2012 the European Commission proposed to create a new transnational cooperation programme for the 2014-2020 period. The Danube programme area includes Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Germany (Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria) not whole territory); Hungary; the Republic of Moldova; Montenegro; Romania; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Ukraine (not whole territory).

The preparation of the new programme is conducted by the Programming Task Force: a committee of representatives from all the Danube partner states’. The Task Force was funded in February 2013 and it had four meetings so far. The main aim of the work of the Task Force is to develop the Danube Operational Programme, which will serve as a basic document for the implementation of the transnational programme. The Task Force makes its decisions on the basis of consensus.

The geography of the new Danube programme matches exactly the territory of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region adopted in 2011. The macro-regional strategy and the transnational programme are two different instruments developed for similar aims but acting on different levels and principles. Their matching territory and goals provide great opportunities for cooperation between the two: besides contributing to the Strategy’s thematic goals by realizing relevant cooperation projects, the programme might also support the institutional cooperation of stakeholders and institutions of the Danube Strategy.

Thematic priorities of the Danube programme will be defined in line with the relevant draft EC legislation, the national priorities of Partner States, and reflect the needs of the programme area. Topics to be addressed by programme priorities may include many of traditional transnational cooperation topics, like innovation, transport, environment, etc.

Implementation of the programme will be coordinated by joint structures set up in Budapest, Hungary. Implementing structures of the programme are designed in a new institutional setup, taking into account simplification and transnationality as guiding principles.