With the Opening event held on 1 December 2022 at Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia begins its year of the Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). The event’s participants were welcomed by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Marko Štucin, who, in his opening address, emphasised Slovenia’s support for Ukraine – the country that presided over the Danube Strategy before Slovenia. In his address, Mr Štucin encouraged further cooperation in the field of macro-regions. He emphasised the unique role of EU macro-regions, which offer the possibility for all countries, both EU members and non-members, to participate equally.
Sławomir Tokarski, Director of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), also addressed the audience, focusing on the importance of continuing to facilitate the enlargement process, which Slovenia puts as one of its focuses during the Presidency. Nataša Goršek Mencin, Deputy Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Slovenia, emphasised the importance of quick action and support of the EUSDR for Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and welcomed Slovenia’s decision to continue supporting Ukraine in its Presidency programme and support the empowerment of all actors in the Danube Strategy. The first part was concluded by Ms Nadija Afanasieva, representative of the Ukrainian National Coordination of the Danube Strategy, who thanked the Trio Presidencies for their support and expressed her satisfaction that Slovenia will include in its programme the topics addressed by Ukraine during its Presidency of the Danube Strategy.
In the second part, Ms Petra Česen Čatar, Slovenian National Coordinator of the EUSDR, addressed the participants and presented the one-year programme of the Slovenian Presidency and its institutional priorities. The thematic priorities of the Presidency were touched upon by Mr Jernej Grahor, representative of the Centre for European Perspective and co-coordinator of Priority Area 10, Mr Peter Volasko, representative of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Slovenia and Mr Franc Žepič, representative of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Republic of Slovenia and co-coordinator of Priority Area 1b.
The Slovenian EUSDR Presidency will focus on the future development of the Danube Region and on empowered cooperation of all EUSDR participating countries while maintaining full solidarity with Ukraine.
During the Presidency, Slovenia will focus on the future development of the Danube Region. Given that the Danube Region is one of the most heterogeneous and diverse regions in Europe, with nine EU and five non-EU countries, the Slovenian Presidency will focus on the involvement, empowerment, communication and capacity-building of key stakeholders participating in the EUSDR in a structured and strategic way.
To act as a promoter and facilitator of macro-regional cooperation between all countries and all macro-regional strategies, the Slovenian EUSDR Presidency has the following institutional priorities:
- Empowering involvement in the EUSDR
- Improving the strategic governance of EUSDR and macro-regional strategies
- Youth involvement and its role in the EUSDR
- Embedding process – evaluation and further steps
Taking into account the acceleration of the green and digital transition that will steer the transformation of societies and affect cooperation and connectivity, and recognising the challenges to transport and energy security in the region, the thematic priorities of the Presidency will focus on the expected transformation of societies and the role of knowledge in such societies and professions of the future, as well as transport and energy challenges in the region.
The Opening event of the Slovenian Presidency of the EUSDR continued with an informal discussion among EUSDR National Coordinators and Priority Area Coordinators, focusing on empowering for involvement, strengthening the ownership of countries in the EUSDR and unlocking the potential of macroregional cooperation for non-EU countries.
The informal meeting continues on 2 December with discussions on the implementation of the Slovenian Presidency programme by Ms Petra Česen Čatar, presentation of the state-of-play of macroregional strategies, implementation report, EU MRS week and 4 Trio Presidencies by Mr Johan Magnusson from the Directorate General for Regional Policy of the European Commission. Following will be the presentation of results of the 11th EUSDR Annual Forum by the Ukrainian and Slovak EUSDR NC representatives and a discussion on the inclusion of youth in the EUSDR, focusing on the work of the Danube Youth Council and POPRI challenge and further plans for the establishment of the Danube Youth Organisations Network (DYON).
Slovenia will hold the Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region from 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2023, with the conclusion at the 12th EUSDR Annual Forum, which Slovenia will hold on 24 and 25 October 2023 in Brdo pri Kranju.