This opinion builds on ECO/277 - rapporteur Miklos Barabás (former member, HU-III) and co-rapporteur Mihai Manoliu (RO-I) - on The European Union strategy for the Danube region, which was adopted by the EESC in September 2010.
The European Economic and Social Committee strongly supports the new approach to the European Union's macro-regional policy and the current proposal for a strategy for the Danube region.
The EESC believes that when formulating the strategy for the Danube, account should be taken of the role played by the Danube River in forming a common Danube consciousness and identity, in which intercultural dialogue and solidarity are key features. This is a regional contribution to the formation of a common European consciousness in the 8 EU Member States and 6 non-EU States through which the river flows.
The EESC calls for a clear, simple and transparent system of governance for the strategy's implementation, making it possible to advance successfully towards the goals set. Civil society must be actively involved by means of the Civil Society Forum foreseen in the Strategy's proposals, and in which the EESC and its national counterparts are called upon to play an essential role.
The Commission has drawn up the strategy around "three nos". Even though:
- it provides no new EU funds. There could be additional international, national, regional or private funds, although better use of existing funds is emphasised;
- the EESC views coordinating financial resources in order to achieve the objectives set to be an improvement which, thanks to constant review, will make it possible to identify new funding options. It advocates setting up a specific fund;
- it requires no changes to EU legislation, since the EU legislates for the EU27 and not for a macro-region alone; however, the EESC, as in its opinion on the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, suggests giving Commission departments more resources in order to ensure that the Strategy is properly followed up;
- in the EESC's view, changes could, if agreed by actors in the reinforced territorial cooperation, be made at regional, national or other levels, in order to address specific objectives;
- it creates no additional structures which are fundamentally different from those already existing in current EU practice. The strategy will be implemented using coordination structures which are new for the region and existing bodies, whose complementarity must be maximised;
- the EESC feels that bureaucratic constraints should be minimised, and that a research group should be set up to scientifically analyse and discuss questions relating to the Danube strategy; a scholarship programme should contribute to the work of this group.
The EESC feels that bureaucratic constraints should be minimised, and that a research group should be set up to scientifically analyse and discuss questions relating to the Danube strategy; a scholarship programme should contribute to the work of this group.