As EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, I am delighted to open this edition of Danube Watch and present to you how EU Regional Policy is helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the Danube region.
The Danube is the most international river in the world and its fourteen states decided to combine their efforts in 2010 to set up the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, covering an area that is home to 112 million people, or one-fourth of the EU’s population. The Danube Delta is Europe’s largest European wetland and reed bed, and is home to the largest colony of pelicans outside Africa. Given their importance for both navigation and the environment, the Danube river and its tributaries are at the very heart of the Danube Strategy.
Since 2010, important projects have been implemented in line with one of the main pillars of the Danube Strategy, “protecting the environment”. These include the Fairway rehabilitation and maintenance Master Plan, the network of Protected Areas (Danube Parks), the Danube Sturgeon Task Force, along with projects for flood prevention such as Seerisk and DAREFFORT, or the DREAM project and the BOKU hydraulic engineering laboratory. All of these projects show the commitment of policymakers and stakeholders in the Danube region to work together to enhance the well-being and the quality of life of the people in the region.
Other remarkable projects include JOINTISZA, the updated integrated Tisza River basin management plan and DanubeSediment, which aims to ensure sediment balance in the river system.
The severe floods that have affected the Danube basin in recent years are a clear demonstration of the impact of climate change on the Danube river. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was set up to promote cooperation on such environmental issues, for example the monitoring of climate dynamics, the implementation of mitigation measures and adapting to change.
Environmental issues do not stop at national borders and this is why cooperation among countries is fundamental in providing effective solutions to such problems. This explains why the Danube Strategy not only involves the nine riparian EU Member States, but also the five neighbouring non-EU states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine.
I very much look forward to closer and stronger cooperation within the framework of the Danube Strategy, for the benefit of the millions of citizens living in the area and the Union as a whole.