Brussels supports Vojvodina’s initiative for establishing the Central Danube Region

At the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg in Brussels, on 9th March 2016, a meeting was held among the representatives of the Provincial Secretariat for Interregional Cooperation and Local Government, Matija Vilfan, Director of the Danube Strategy Point, and Anja Krabatsch, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), in cooperation with the Vojvodina European Office in Brussels.

Branislav Bugarski, Provincial Secretary for Interregional Cooperation and Local Self-Government, presented the initiative for establishing the Central Danube Region platform, i.e. the joint presentation of AP Vojvodina and two neighboring regions in Croatia, Hungary and Romania.  The convergence of positions among the regions was developed after a discussion about the importance of enlarging the initiative for submitting joint projects for EU funding, and during the study visit to Baden-Württemberg, when the participants were presented with the results of that German province in cross-border cooperation.

The participants of the meeting agreed that with mutual engagement, the establishment of the  Central Danube Region platform was an excellent way to achieve quality strategic projects in the field of water economy and environmental protection, as well as in the branding of cultural and tourist attractions of the region, which would be offered to the European market, as well as big investors.

“Vojvodina uses the most of the cross-border cooperation and it has established excellent cooperation with its cross-border partners and we are ready to find the best funding solutions for the strategic projects, such as the Begej renovation project, on which we have been working with our Romanian partners, as well as the reconstruction of the Baja-Bezdan channel, on which we have been working with our Hungarian colleagues. The cooperation with neighboring counties is at high level and it is important for us to know who makes the decisions about the priorities of border regions, because we want to focus on the priorities and strategic projects, such as investment in water infrastructure, pipelines and environmental protection”, said Secretary Bugarski.

Bugarski added that macro-regional cooperation and cross-border projects should revive areas near the borders, by opening border crossings, creating industrial zones, as well as overall economic activity.

“Vojvodina has the support of Baden-Württemberg, which has already shared its knowledge, within the Upper Rhine cooperation, with Vojvodina and the neighboring counties. The experience of the most developed regions, which have invested in a number of strategic projects that form a zone of free activities in Europe, in addition to developed infrastructure and private investment, is the objective pursued by Vojvodina”, emphasized Bugarski.

Matija Vilfan, Director of the Danube Strategy Point, said that fourteen countries, with twelve priority sections defined in the Strategy, should focus on their priorities and should ask for help from the Danube Strategy Point regarding the specific projects, which could be found in European institutions and PPP funding, as well as the European Investment Bank.

Vilfan repeated that Vojvodina had cleverly used the cross-border cooperation programmes as preparation for the forthcoming big projects funded under the EU investment funds.

Anja Krabatsch indicated that the DG REGIO supported the platforms focusing on clear and specific projects.

During the meeting, it was announced that a study of examples of good practice in the Danube Region was expected to be published soon, in order to continue with the knowledge share and overall development in the Danube Region.

Bugarski confirmed that the importance of the Danube Strategy Point in Brussels, after the four-year implementation of the EU Strategy for Danube Region (EUSDR), and the commencement of the Danube Transnational Programme were a major impetus for the Strategy’s further growth, and thus Vojvodina, taking the central part of the Danube. Vojvodina was especially interested in the Priority Section 7 and application of new technologies in agricultural production, for which excellent preconditions had been created.

During the meeting, it could be heard that the EUSDR Annual Forum would be organized in Bratislava, and the priorities referred to water protection and knowledge society, involving the most important objectives of development documents.

The Danube Strategy Point made available their capacities and assistance in the implementation of strategic projects coming from Vojvodina, as well as in the context of the future work of the Central Danube Region platform.