The thematic chosen for this meeting was “Perspectives of Urban Policies in the Danube Region”, and the speeches delivered addressed this issue from the perspective of establishing an Urban Platform for the Danube Region. Special guests and speakers at the event included Michael Haupl – Mayor of Vienna, Ivo Gonner – Mayor of Ulm and president of CODCR, Sorin Oprescu – General Mayor of Bucharest, Yordanka Fandakova -Mayor of Sofia, Jose Palma Andres – director of the European Commission DG-Regio, Nicolae Barbu – Mayor of Giurgiu, Peter Langer – general coordinator of the CODCR, Eric Bartha – general secretary of CODCR, along with other European officials.
The event, hosted by the City of Vienna, preceded the work of the third edition of the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Region Danube (EUSDR) and targeted prospects of urban policies in the region. In his speech, Mayor Oprescu has emphasized the importance of including the EU capitals in the development of the strategy. ”Danube is the backbone of Europe and also the only truly international river. Therefore I believe that the development of the Lower Danube is not just a priority zone. After discussions on the EU strategy, which lasted almost three years, today it is obvious that we need a unified Danube and not a border between North and South, between West and East. We need a Danube with major focus of economic and social development on the European continent. After the discussions these days, I hope that we all understand that the time has come to overcome declarative stage and decide together to enter the stage with concrete actions”, said Mayor Oprescu
Referring to the need to involve the local governments and to develop and implement a coherent strategy in the Danube states region, Kurt Puchinger, coordinator of the EU Danube Strategy – PA10, highlighted the need to harmonize European policies but also the elimination of gaps regarding the participating states: “ We need equal costs for basic goods – and I will give as an example the average price of fuel in Austria and Eastern European countries: 1.29 euro / litre of diesel, respectively between 1.3 to 1.41 euro in the Lower Danube Zone – average salaries in the public administration in these countries are catastrophically low: almost 6 out of 10 employees in local government earns less than 167 euro per month, which means that most of them have lower incomes than a pensioner in these countries. It is impossible to imagine that we can bring prosperity in the Danube region without realizing, above all, balancing gradually, but rapidly, the revenues for those who we ask today to contribute to the definition, implementation and development of the Danube region”.
Mayor Sorin Oprescu, expressed the belief that in order to achieve a genuine development for the Danube River Basin, the foundation is ” to develop a comprehensive program based on an unitary concept for the entire territory, with the involvement of public institutions in Romania and Bulgaria, of the European Commission and other administrative and financial institutions. A first step could be the project for the economic zone South Bucharest, along the Bucharest – Danube canal, with extension to Giurgiu / Ruse. Both Bucharest and Sofia must turn in two development locomotives in order to achieve the objectives of the EU Strategy on connectivity and quality of life. “
The event was also an opportunity to welcome the City of Sofia as a full member of the CODCR and the Mayor Yordanka Fandakova as a member of the Presidium.
Among other speakers was also the mayor of Giurgiu, Nicolae Barbu, who presented the project “Giurgiu – High Performance Green Port” initiated by ILR Romania as part of ILR Lintz, in partnership with the City Hall Giurgiu Free Zone. Over 100 guests learned about this ambitious project of the city of Giurgiu, it`s objective being to build a tri-modal centre in which will be used the most modern technology.
Please find the agenda of the event here