Danube Strategy Flagships

Danube Strategy Flagships are projects or processes that contribute to the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), have a clear macro-regional dimension and a multi-level governance approach. They are of high importance for the Danube Region’s economic, social and territorial cohesion and for improving the quality of life in the Danube Region.

 

Danube Strategy Flagships strengthen internal and external communication of the Strategy and the visibility of the topics, initiatives and prospects in the Danube Region. They illustrate the progress achieved in implementing the EUSDR and demonstrate exemplarily significant improvement in the Region that is induced by cooperation.

 

EUSDR National Coordinators and Priority Area Coordinators with the respective Steering Groups, in their capacity as representatives and key implementers of the EUSDR, as well as the Danube Strategy Point, are committed to contribute to and promote Danube Strategy Flagships in accordance with the Guidance Paper for identifying and listing Danube Strategy Flagships.

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>>> For EUSDR Priority Area Coordinators only <<<

List of Danube Strategy Flagships 2022

Process, platform, ongoing since 2013

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 1a Waterways Mobility, PA 11 Security
Submitted by: PA 1a

The joint EUSDR PA 1a & EUSDR PA 11 Working Group on “Administrative Processes” started its work in 2013 and is since then fully dedicated to facilitate and improve control processes in inland navigation, benefitting both the shipping sector (as united in PA 1a) and control authorities (as united in PA 11). Within the broad field of administrative processes, border controls have always been a main source of delays and additional costs for inland waterway transport on the multinational Danube River, which are therefore addressed with priority. In order to ensure the freedom of movement of persons and goods as foreseen in the EU treaties, simple and time-efficient control processes need to be in place at all Schengen external borders and outside the Schengen area.

The activities of the Working Group are based on a joint effort of Priority Area 1a of the EUSDR which is concerned with further developing inland waterways and Priority Area 11, which aims at enhancing transnational cooperation to improve security and to tackle serious and organised crime.

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Policy-project-cycle, process, ongoing since 2014

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 1a Waterways Mobility

Unstable and unpredictable fairway conditions along the Danube lead to cargo vessels that are not optimally loaded. This results in unreliable logistics chains and transport prices per transported tonne that are too high to be competitive. For the passenger shipping industry, unstable fairway conditions may prevent voyages from being carried out as planned, resulting in additional costs for cruise operators and an overall loss of image. Apart from structural river engineering-works on a limited number of strategic waterway bottlenecks, proper fairway maintenance helps in securing stable fairway conditions for waterway operators and their customers.

In response to inadequate fairway conditions along the Danube, Priority Area 1a, together with the waterway administrations and Ministries of Transport of the Danube Region, elaborated the Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its navigable tributaries (FRMMP) in 2014.

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Stakeholder Conference, network, platform; ongoing since 2012 until at least 2028

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 1b Rail-Road-Air Mobility

Since 2012, EUSDR PA 1b assembles its valued stakeholders e.g. from the European Commission, academia, financing institutions, business representatives and interested general public to collect input across the diverse participants, advance standards of best practice and enable networking.

The purpose of the annual Stakeholders’ Conference is to identify guiding principles for selected topics in transport, ascertain the current performance in these areas, and determine how the implementation of EUSDR PA 1b towards its mission can be further improved.

With this information, PA 1b can make effective decisions on its implementation plan. The conference outcomes also provide valuable input for the participants who are able to learn what are the most needed research and project activities for enhanced mobility and multimodality in the macro-region.

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Process; ongoing until 2030 and beyond

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 1b Rail-Road-Air Mobility

The development of an interconnected and integrated transport system in the Danube Region is a challenge of macro-regional relevance and consistent with national priorities as well as with the EU objectives of a more connected, greener and low-carbon Europe. It aims at strengthening transport infrastructure networks relations by identifying multimodal corridors alongside the TEN-T network, including connections between the EU and non-EU member states. In addition, the network shall improve connections between the Northern Adriatic and Black Sea and intermodal connections with the river and seaports of the macro-region.

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Project: 01.01.2023 – 31.12.2025

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 1b Rail-Road-Air Mobility, PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation

Submitted by: PA 1b

The SUSTANCE project helps to solve the lack of efficient and sustainable public transport in peripheral and cross-border areas of Central Europe (CE), which have registered an increased mobility, especially at cross-border level, in the last decade.

The lack of public passenger solutions is a challenge for citizens living in sparsely populated areas, leading to an increased dependency on individual mobility and private vehicles. To change this, cooperation is central. A coordinated and jointly developed approach between CE countries, regions and sector stakeholders could ensure that the passenger transport and mobility system benefits from the new technological and innovative approaches and from new cooperation schemes deriving from the transnational partnership.

To achieve this, the project approach will be based on an innovative methodology with Public Transport accessibility of rural, peripheral and cross-border areas being assessed to identify existing gaps and posing the ground for new innovative services.

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Policy support, project, process, network; preparatory phase; planned duration: up to 5-10 years

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 2 Sustainable Energy

The Flagship will coordinate actions to foster the development of hydrogen economies in the EUSDR countries at a macro-regional level building on synergies of the national actions and the favourable natural /geographical conditions of the EUSDR (e.g. areas of excellent potentials for green hydrogen production from renewables, tremendous transport facilities: either natural, such as the Danube River, or artificial such as the extended gas infrastructures, etc.). It will analyse the entire hydrogen value-chain (production, transport/storage, end-uses) at a macro-regional level in a comprehensive way in order to make policy recommendations on how to adjust the different strengths / opportunities (e.g. production and transport capacities) and visions (e.g. various end-use development scenarios) at national levels into a transnational context, thus facilitating the development of a fully operational macro-regional hydrogen economy. The analyses will be done by an international expert team from and beyond the EUSDR countries (network) and will be disseminated – also in the form of policy recommendations – via different international workshops, policy conferences, etc.

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Project, process, network; preparatory phase; planned duration: 5-10 years

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 2 Sustainable Energy

The Flagship will enable the spread of comprehensive systems, such as e.g. the “European Energy Award” (EEA) that facilitate the daily operation work of local authorities in their municipal energy planning. Such a “seed project” already exists (EEA along the Danube, supported by the State Ministry of Baden Württemberg), but future new projects are also planned (e.g. addressing the 2022 autumn call of DTP) partly to increase the recognition and adaption of the EEA system in the Danube Region, partly to address new objectives to be elaborated in full details in 2022. One such idea is to establish a network of experts and interested municipalities (“Danube Region Advisory Hub”) that support the set-up of new and the expansion of existing energy communities in a broader sense (going beyond the “prosumer” concept of renewable electricity and smart energy systems, and including local heating systems as well), to assist municipalities to elaborate their Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP-s), enforce them joining the Covenant of Mayors, harmonise local policies to national and EU strategies, facilitate capacity building and benchmarking, etc.

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Policy support, process, network; preparatory phase; planned duration: 2022-2024 (any beyond if necessary)

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 2 Sustainable Energy

The Russian gas import of many EUSDR countries is well above 60%, which makes this part of Europe even more exposed than the EU average. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing and foreseen energy-related sanctions raise the security of supply concerns as never before. To address this challenge, EUSDR PA 2 has initiated several actions, such as:

  • It commissioned a study (subcontractor: Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research- REKK) on how to reduce gas import independence in the Danube Region (to be completed by November 2022). The preparation of this study is being carried out by strong collaboration with the Steering Group members and gas experts of the EUSDR countries.
  • Together with REKK and Central European Policy Studies (CEPS) PA 2 is organising a session in the frame of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) on 19 September 2022. The session will discuss future potential pathways for reducing the Danube Region’s dependence on the Russian gas import, while still adhering to the European Green Deal. It will present proposed short-, mid- and long term actions on how to diversify the energy supply of the region’s countries, accelerate the use of the untapped renewable and other alternative energy sources. The session will combine keynotes and discussion of natural gas related high level policy options, economics of potential sectoral measures and ground implementation experiences.
  • Based on the outcomes of the study and the results of widespread international discussion expected at the EUSEW conference, policy briefs and other follow up activities are planned for 2023 and beyond.

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Process; preparatory phase; to be revised after 2 years

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 3 Culture & Tourism

Sustain and better connect all EUSDR Cultural routes (local/regional connectivity with existing or future routes):

Routes4U published a Roadmap for the Danube Region, which summarises the research results and the conclusions drawn during the meeting in Bucharest. The Roadmap highlights recommendations and steps to take in order to successfully develop the Cultural Routes in the Danube Region.

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Pilot initiative; preparatory phase (second phase, deadline for application 02.10.2022)

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 3 Culture & Tourism

The basic idea of the Danube Small Project Fund for Culture (DSPF) is to provide an uncomplicated funding platform for Danube-wide collaboration that can disburse even small amounts (<5,000 €) for the most important costs (travel expenses, organisation etc.) without major administrative hurdles. Such an uncomplicated small project funding scheme has been a long-term desire of the cultural sector in the Danube Region since the very beginning of the EUSDR activities.

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Process: 2019-2028

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 4 Water Quality, PA 5 Environmental Risks
Submitted by: PA 4

Climate change is becoming a global challenge and it is a crosscutting issue. EUSDR PA 4 supports a number of related actions in which water availability and water quality are key issues to climate change adaptation as stated in the EUSDR Action Plan (Action 6 of PA 4). Moreover, climate change issues are involved among PA 5 activities.

Among others, PA 4 organised a conference on adaptation to climate change under the Slovak EUSDR Presidency (2021) and prepared a study (2020) and leaflet on water retention measures in urban areas (2021). It supports a number of international projects on replenishing groundwater supplies by managed aquifer recharge (Deepwater-CE), small water and nutrient retention measures (FramWat, OPTAIN), floodplain restoration (DanubeFloodplain), management of drought related risks (DriDanube), water quality and ecosystem services (IDES), local water retention measures (LIFE LOGOS 4 WATERS). PA 4 contributed in the development of a “Guidance paper on Climate Change Induced Water Quantity Issues”, prepared in the frame of the JOINTISZA project, focusing on the extreme climate events in Tisza sub-basin scale. PA 4 is planning to assist in setting up an international project to determine water balance for the whole Danube Region and others related to climate change.

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Process; 2019-2028

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 4 Water Quality, PA 6 Biodiversity, Landscapes and Air & Soil Quality
Submitted by: PA 4

EUSDR PA 4 in cooperation with EUSDR PA 6 is very active on increasing the knowledge base on migratory fish species, including sturgeon – the Danube endemic fish species, and is looking for possibilities of re-establishing their migration routes. PA 4 supports international projects like the MEASURES project to restore ecological corridors for migratory fish or We Pass I and II projects to enable fish migration at the Iron Gates, and presented a brochure “Promoting Measures to Enable Fish Migration in the Danube River Basin” summarising the current knowledge. PA 4 is carrying out a study on effects of noise and waves on fish species and is planning to prepare a fish migration restoration document for the Upper and Middle Danube Region. PA 4 will also promote hydro-morphological measures to achieve good ecological status of waters needed for fish migration.

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Process; 2019-2028

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 4 Water Quality

EUSDR PA 4 has been very active in the field of emerging substances as they represent a significant risk to the water environment. Although in accordance with Watch List of Directive 2000/60/EC (Water Framework Directive – WFD; Annex X – the substances are specified in detail in Directive 2013/39/EU), there is an obligation to monitor hazardous and emerging substances in surface water, and for groundwater it is not compulsory. Since this list is continually enlarging, currently there is not enough relevant data available on their occurrence as well as on their impacts on ecosystems and humans.

PA 4 organised data collection on microplastic and is supporting international projects and project proposals on plastic and microplastic like Tid(y)Up, PlasticFreeDanube and MapRiverPlastic. PA 4 also helps awareness raising on the plastic pollution of waters by cooperating with the CleanDanube project and by its own brochure on best practices towards reduction of plastic pollution. Furthermore, pilot research was made on micropollutants in the Danube at 5 wastewater treatment plants in 2021 in Hungary.

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Project, process, network, platform; started in 2019, ongoing constantly reviewed and renewed milestones

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 5 Environmental Risks

Extending the cooperation and joint efforts of the countries in the Danube Region presents an opportunity for reaching a common understanding and for developing standards regarding the management of environmental risks. Developing recommendations for the involvement of civil protection organisations and fire and rescue services involved in disaster management would encourage standardised response activities.

The Disaster Management Working Group (DM-WG) was established in 2019 to concentrate on emergency response and preparedness elements of managing environmental risks which are within the scope of EUSDR PA 5.

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Platform; ongoing; one project is not selected for founding yet (CARPWET), some projects have been finished (LIFE-MICACC, FRAMWAT), some under implementation (LIFE LOGOS 4 WATERS, LIFE SANBOIL & DAREnet) and some activities are planned (Policy Recommendation).

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 5 Environmental Risks

Countries are facing a pressing, complex and interlinked set of environmental crises. In terms of climate change water scarcity, drought and flooding is one of the most frequent and damaging natural hazard globally. While nature-based solutions can reduce flood risk, they are not part of mainstream risk management. However, they can minimalise the flood risk and have added value compared to grey solutions (concrete).

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Project: in planning phase

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 5 Environmental Risks

Mining is one of the world’s most traditional industrial sectors, and continues to provide valuable ores and minerals. A significant waste stream however, is generated by these operations. One of the components of mining waste is mining tailings – such as waste rock and mine water – and this all needs to be stored and handled in tailings management facilities (TMFs). Due to the physical characteristics and chemical nature of substances that can be found in the tailings, TMFs pose risks to both environment and population. Pollution of water bodies and the related risk or damage to environmental resources often has a negative transboundary effect too, and accidents at TMFs may lead to long-term negative and chronic effects. More than 300 TMFs are located in the Danube River Basin (DRB), for which adequate safety conditions and measures have to be put in place. Past accident events dramatically demonstrated how serious impacts on people and water resources TMF failures could have.

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Process; ongoing (The Task Forces exist as long the activities can be carried out. In the past, some Task Forces were closed, but new ones emerged as well. It is a dynamic process.)

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 6 Biodiversity, Landscapes and Air & Soil Quality

EUSDR Priority Area 6 deals with a variety of topics, all of which have to do with the protection and preservation of our natural resources. We cannot manage these tasks alone. For this reason, PA 6 from the beginning put great emphasis on the involvement of stakeholders, experts and enthusiasts who wanted to work with us to implement the objectives of the EUSDR Action Plan. This has resulted in the establishment of a number of working groups, the PA 6 Task Forces. Here, representatives of civil society, academia and authorities gather to jointly define goals and implement their own work programme. In this way, existing knowledge and experience is pooled and integrated into the governance of the EUSDR. This process is a central element of PA 6 and therefore an EUSDR Flagship that explicitly involves all current six PA 6 Task Forces.

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Platform: 2022-2024

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 7 Knowledge Society, PA 8 Competitiveness of Enterprises, PA 9 People & Skills, PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation
Submitted by: PA 7

The Danube Tech Valley Initiative (DTVI) will be a leading open, voluntary, and inclusive platform facilitating bottom-up cross-border interactions and initiatives among diverse stakeholders in the Danube Region including, among others, local and regional governments, research institutes and universities, start-ups, and corporations. The primary goal concerns bolstering and accelerating the innovation potential of the Danube Region through this cooperation.

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Projects, i.e. Multilateral Danube Call; Joint funding instrument; so far 2 calls implemented, and the calls should be launched regularly every 2-3 years.

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 7 Knowledge Society

The joint funding instrument MULTILATERAL SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION IN THE DANUBE REGION was created based on existing bilateral cooperation programmes. Using already tested application and evaluation schemes lowers the bureaucratic burden for both applicants and implementing agencies.

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Project, network, platform; ongoing, planned for 4 years, from March 2022 to February 2026.

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 7 Knowledge Society, PA 8 Competitiveness of Enterprises, PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation
Submitted by: PA 7

The Western Balkans Info Hub (March 2022-February 2026), provided by the Horizon Europe funded project called POLICY ANSWERS, deploys a vast array of tools – from high-level meetings to information services, from pilot activities to policy recommendations on key innovation issues – to support a better integration of the Western Balkans into the European Research Area (ERA).

The project aims at continuing and scaling up the common efforts of the European Union and the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – for cooperation on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. The background of the project is the enlargement policy and association of the WB to Horizon Europe and inclusion to the European Research Area, Higher Education Area etc. The goal is to ultimately foster stability and prosperity while strengthening the European perspective of the region.

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Project, 01.01.2020 – 31.12.2022

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 8 Competitiveness of Enterprises

The EUSDR focuses in its Priority Area 8 on increasing the competitiveness of SMEs in the Danube Region. As a flagship project of this PA, the “Danube Alliance” aims to contribute to a better resilience of value chains in the Danube Region, especially in order to promote regional competitiveness in sub-regions of the Danube Region in a sustainable way. The main beneficiaries are micro enterprises, SMEs and public administrations. In this way, the project responds to the effects of disruptions and uncertainties in supply chains described above.

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Platform, ongoing since 2021

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 9 People & Skills

The Danube Region Platform on Centres of Vocational Excellence was launched by EUSDR Priority Area 9 in cooperation with the European Training Foundation (ETF) to provide a forum for exchange on national, regional and international experiences and best practices regarding centres of vocational excellence (CoVEs). The platform’s thematic focus lies on the topics of going green and social inclusion. As part of the initiative, a Policy Platform on CoVEs with national representatives from Danube Region countries and experts from the European Commission, PA 9 and ETF was established. The Danube Region Platform will also promote cooperation between CoVEs from the Danube Region within the ETF Network for Excellence.

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Projects: EQAVET-NRP-RO 2019 (01.04.2019 – 31.03.2021), EQAVET-NRP-RO 2021 (01-04.2021 – 31.08.2023)

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 9 People & Skills

At system level, the project beneficiary (Romanian National Centre for TVET Development) develops a national programme on quality assurance (QA) in vocational education and training (VET) for the VET school staff, organises and supports a peer review of the system, that will focus on the QA of the mechanisms established for the quality assurance of the design, assessment and review of qualifications and organises national events to inform all relevant stakeholders on the project’s developments. At provider level, the VET schools from the partner networks formed in the previous QANRP project are continued to be supported, by: training of teachers with responsibilities in quality assurance, testing methodology and peer review tools, adapted to the national context, supporting the schools to use the European instrument SELFIE, to develop improvement plans and to collect feedback from students on the provision of their training programs, with a focus on the evaluation of the learning outcomes. Because the communication and involvement of as many stakeholders as possible is important, national information sessions will be organised and the results of the project will be promoted through different communication channels (GNAC site, “Alege-ți drumul” platform, Facebook, etc.). Regarding the collaboration with other Member States and the strengthening of mutual trust, a peer review at system level on the monitoring of graduates and skills forecasting will be organised. The Romanian experts also participate in peer reviews organised by other QANPRs and in other European events.

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Network, ongoing since 2015

EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 9 People & Skills, PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation
Submitted by: PA 9 & PA 10

The Network of ESF Managing Authorities (MAs) in the Danube Region constitutes a platform to facilitate the exchange and the coordination between the ESF MAs in the Danube Region, the respective Priority Areas of the EUSDR and the European Commission as well as further relevant stakeholders. It aims at fostering transnational cooperation and coordination within the ESF Operational Programmes in the Danube Region, to thereby connect cooperation and investment, and serve as a joint knowledge hub for implementation, planning and exchange of experience with social policies. In doing so, the network seeks to improve social cohesion through exchanging knowledge and increasing capacities.

The network is organised by EUSDR PA 9 “People and Skills” and EUSDR PA 10 “Institutional Capacity” together with the ESF Managing Authorities in the Danube Region and other partners.

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Project: 2013-2021

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation

Since 2016, EuroAccess Macro-Regions has been supporting project ideas from the Danube Region in becoming projects. EuroAccess is a comprehensive online database on EU funding opportunities and calls in the EU’s macro-regions. The database collects, processes and disseminates data of more than 200 EU funding programmes and open calls that operate within the geographical scope of the macro-regions. EUSDR PA 10 implemented the project and extended the platform’s service to all four macro-regional strategies (MRS). After the successful pilot phase, the project has been continued by the DSP in 2021.

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Platform: ongoing since 2014

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation

The Participation Days are a format that brings together representatives of local, regional and national public administrations, civil society, the EU and EUSDR governance and further interested stakeholders of the Danube Region Strategy. In doing so, the Participation Days promote cross-sectoral cooperation, exchange know-how and experience and facilitate better coordination between the EUSDR and projects.

The objective of Participation Days is to strengthen trust between public and private stakeholders for participatory governance and to co-create sustainable solutions for regional development in the Danube Region.

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Project, 01.02.2019 – 30.10.2021 (33 months)

Submitted by / EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 11 Security

The project focused on international cooperation in the field of detection of illegal laboratories for the production of methamphetamine, including trade in precursors and chemical substances for its production and subsequent distribution networks. The CO3DIL project has been instrumental in linking available information on methamphetamine illicit drug markets in Europe, deepening actionable law enforcement cooperation and naming production, distribution and user trends in this area.

The central motive of the project was operational cooperation in criminal proceedings. During the two years that the project was implemented, 18 operational meetings were held on specific cases, seven joint operational measures, 18 methamphetamine laboratories were seized and 67 perpetrators were apprehended. Furthermore, five expert meetings with a professional educational programme were held in order to create a network of experts covering the issue. All shared experiences have been summarised in a methodological manual that unifies the process of detecting and documenting methamphetamine production and distribution across European police forces and is one of the tools for effective international police cooperation.

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