DIPLOMACY

Minister-delegate Negrescu says Gov’t to pass decision on European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

Minister-delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu told a debate on Thursday on the recent developments in Romania’s preparations for taking over the annual presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) that the government will pass at its meeting a decision to provide an organisational framework for the coordination mechanisms related to the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region.

“This decision will unlock a discussion initiated more than three years ago about the need for a structural mechanism to coordinate the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Practically, through the efforts of the team I coordinate, we have succeeded in making an extremely important step with this idea of reviving this strategy at both national and European levels. The fact that it took three years is not a reason for pride, but the fact that it has been unlocked means we have gone through an important stage in what this the strategy of the European Union for the Danube Region will mean in the future for Romania and what we are proposing to do at a European level. We must say it loud and clear that this strategy represents a successful initiative of Romania, which, together with Austria have built this macro-regional strategy, putting it on the map of regional strategies recognised by the European institutions,” said Negrescu.

According to him, the macro-regional strategy is one of the most important at European level.

Negrescu said that Romania is the only country having decided to allocate from its own funds, European structural funds, axes, projects and programmes designed for the riparian areas, and that can be a model for all states to do the same in the future.

“Today’s governmental initiative to pass a decision on how to operate at national level will allow us to have some clearer and more organised components – I mean the role of the national coordinator, the national forum, the interministerial working groups. A consultative council is needed because there are many strategies around this strategy, very many people involved, who have expertise and who should be drawn to support this revival project,” the minister said.

Negrescu added that Romania could be one of the few countries, if not the only one, to hold two EUSDR chairmanships, given that Romania will also take over the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2019.

“Bulgaria has done the same thing, after which Croatia will do the same. These steps are part of logic and our common desire to prioritise macro-regional strategies on the European agenda,” said Negrescu.

Probably this July the government will also pass a note that will present the central axes of Romania’s strategy for this presidency, and starting November there will be several meetings in the country with the ministries and NGO leaders involved in these steps.

“There are four central axes that we are proposing to take up for our presidency: the first regards connectivity, mobility, transport, but also tourism, digitisation, people-to-people contacts, to find all the means for the potential of the Danube to be used … (…) The second element, the second priority theme, is the reinvigoration of this strategy (…) The third direction concerns the exchange of experience both on the priority areas and the exchange of experience among riparian states – we can see an inequality in how the potential of the Danube is used by each state, we notice different interpretations of the European legislation for the Danube management, and there may be examples of good practices that we can use in this way so that Romania may use the potential at a national level as well (…) We want to find solutions to further develop the transnational component of clusters, and especially the special role that clusters will play in taking advantage of the Danube potential,” said Negrescu.

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