The Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) has devoted its 9th Annual Conference to opening direct channels of discussion on experiences, methodologies and innovative practices in the process of optimization of public administration in the Western Balkans. ReSPA has chosen this topic so as to help demystify optimization as one of most important mechanisms for pushing public administration reforms towards creation of more rational, transparent and accountable services for the citizens of this region. The expected impact of the ReSPA's Annual Conference is initiation of a more permanent experience exchange and concrete follow-up activities related to the systemic changes needed for effective optimization of public administration.

Conference video link for 15th November:

Conference video link for 16th November:


Twitter: #ReSPAconf; @ReSPA_EU

Joint Statement of Ministers responsible for Research and Innovation of the participating countries of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region

Bratislava, 3 November 2016

We, the Ministers responsible for Research and Innovation of the participating countries of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (hereinafter referred to as „EUSDR“) met on 3 November 2016, at the occasion of the 5th Annual Forum of the EUSDR taking place in Bratislava, and agreed on the following statement.

We express our commitment to continue providing political support to the Research and Innovation activities carried out at national and regional level, with a specific focus on the macro-regional and transnational level. We agree to reinforce the alignment of funding from all relevant sources, to develop and support existing funding coordination mechanisms, enhance international cooperation, promote investment in human capital, minimize brain drain while ensuring brain circulation, strive to bridge the innovation divide and promote smart specialisation strategies.

We underline that, with its cross-cutting nature, Research and Innovation stimulates development in many other sectors, offering new knowledge, approaches and practices.

We acknowledge the work done and efforts made by the EUSDR stakeholders to promote Research and Innovation in the countries of the region. Education, science, research, innovation and the overall development of a knowledge-based society count among the most important challenges and key priorities in the region, therefore, they are in the centre of attention of the EUSDR strategy. We call upon all the stakeholders – the European Commission, national and transnational authorities, universities, academies of sciences and other public and private research institutions – to continue in their efforts in these areas.

We acknowledge that the support to Research and Innovation from the European Structural and Investment Funds (hereinafter referred to as „ESIF”) and Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) has become a priority in a number of countries and these efforts should continue throughout the current ESIF period 2014-2020. We emphasise in this context that relevant legislation lays down the obligation for the Operational Programmes to contribute towards the implementation of macro-regional strategies, wherever applicable. Nevertheless, it is necessary to implement this objective and continue searching for possibilities to fund Research and Innovation activities from ESIF and other sources. In this respect, the Danube Transnational Programme with its prior concern to develop and test new approaches in order to meet actual challenges represents an important, but not the only instrument for the EUSDR.

We agree that mobilising adequate financial resources to increase the quality of Research and Innovation in the Danube countries plays a crucial role, especially in the less developed parts of the Danube region. To this end, Danube region countries shall focus on development of Research and Innovation funding coordination mechanisms and support already existing initiatives which enable coordinating national efforts and resources of involved / interested regions. Furthermore, a better use of available funding should be aimed at. This would enhance the countries' further integration into the European Research Area and foster multilateral cooperation in Research and Innovation.

Cooperation in the framework of the European Research Area and international cooperation, even beyond the geographical reach of the Danube region, is of fundamental importance. We thus stress the importance of international cooperation among universities, academies of sciences and other research institutions and stakeholders. Practical implementation of the transfer of innovation and technologies is one of the highest priorities for us. It is crucial for the mutual benefit of the stakeholders in the Danube region.

We acknowledge that human capital, such as scientists, researchers and other experts working in the field of Research and Innovation are the most important assets in making the Danube region more competitive within Europe and on the global scale. Sufficient financial support for scientists and researchers should be ensured to promote investment into human potential and capacity building through research, education and training in the Danube region. Loss of talented researchers and scientists represents a special challenge in many Danube region countries. Researchers and scientists often leave their countries, finding better working conditions abroad. Such brain drain deteriorates the situation and diminishes the number of researchers in the region. We highlight that specific attention has to be paid to the support of young researchers. The responsible authorities at national and transnational level shall envisage to: motivate young talented researchers and help them develop their ideas through sustainable and effective funding schemes, create an appropriate research environment enabling sustainable career trajectories and ensure a work-life balance, also taking into consideration the Bratislava Declaration of Young Researchers presented at the informal meeting of Ministers responsible for Research and Innovation in Bratislava on 19 July 2016.

Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation represent a concept which helps concentrate effort and resources on specific areas where Europe and its countries and regions can take the lead on the global competitive market. In some Danube countries/regions, these strategies have already defined areas where the scientific and research institutions can be particularly efficient and effective. We therefore support further development and implementation of the Smart Specialisation Strategies in the entire Danube region, as well as mutual exchange of achievements among partner states and institutions.

Following the meeting of Ministers for Research and Innovation in the Danube Region held on 8-9 July 2012 in Ulm which called for a targeted use of opportunities available for the support of Research and Innovation programmes and instruments, identification of areas in which a Danube region can benefit from smart specialisation and building on results of the feasibility study of the Danube Region Research and Innovation Fund, we agreed today on the following steps:

  • To enhance coordination of national efforts in the Danube region by fostering multilateral cooperation leading towards the implementation of concrete joint funding actions for Research and Innovation activities, such as supporting the Danube Funding Coordination Network established in May 2016 to advance these activities;
  • To support innovation and technology transfer in order to provide for mutual benefits within the EUSDR region in the areas of promotion, development, dissemination, protection, transfer, licensing and commercialisation of technology and innovation in the Danube region;
  • To promote investment into human potential and capacity building in the Danube region through research, education and training by giving support to young researchers, raising attractiveness of scientific career via mobility schemes, innovative research approaches, and interdisciplinary scientific work as well as developing or further supporting instruments aiming to minimize brain drain while ensuring brain circulation in the region;
  • To support further the development and implementation of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation and foster networking and capacity building activities concerning the implementation of these strategies in the entire Danube region;
  • To allocate sufficient resources and capacities for better coordination and governance of the EUSDR at national or regional levels in order to provide for the necessary political backing for its implementation;
  • To ensure continuous participation of experts from relevant ministries or public institutions in the steering groups and the respective working groups of the Priority Areas related to Research and Innovation.

On 13 October 2016 the European Commission´s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Danube Strategy Point organised a participatory workshop on the topic of "Measuring the added value of the EUSDR".

After five intensive years of implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) there is joint support from the participating countries as well as a strategic need for more substantiated review/evaluation of the results and added value of the EUSDR. With experts and key stakeholders the workshop took stock of the achievements of the strategies, identified challenges of measuring the results and how to better define them in the (macro-regional) strategy context.

photo participatory WS 13 Oct 2016

START evaluation questionnaire for EUSDR stakeholders and (potential) project promoters

Have you heard about the initiative START Danube Region Project Fund of Priority Area 10 of the EUSDR? What funding initiatives do you consider are currently most needed in the Danube Region?

The START seed money initiative of Priority Area 10 of the Danube Region Strategy is coming to an end. As a part of its evaluation, Danube Region stakeholders and project promoters are asked to express their views on current needs for funding initiatives via this online questionnaire:

START evaluation questionnaire:

The questionnaire will be open for responses until October 31st 2016.

Use this chance to give your feedback and help make future funding initiatives in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region even more suitable for your needs!

In 2016 Interact launched the study ‘Added value of macro-regional cooperation: collecting practice examples (cases)’. The study is implemented by Spatial Foresight GmbH.

One of the steps within the Study is to call upon a small focus group to test preliminary conclusions and recommendations made. Thus the aim of the focus group is to debate draft results of the Study and recommendations of how programmes and projects can make better use of the added value that macro-regional strategies offer to them. The focus group is scheduled for Thursday, 27 October 2016 to be held in Brussels. If you are interested, more information and the registration are available at:

In case of any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Kai Böhme (kai [DOT] boehme [AT] spatialforesight [DOT] eu) or Dr Erik Gløersen (erik [DOT] gloersen [AT] spatialforesight [DOT] eu).


A Priority Area 11 Symposium on Document Management and Security of Travel Documents is taking place in the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 15-16 September.

Participants from 12 EUSDR states as well as experts from Lithuania and USA among others will discuss the current trends and challenges in the management of the travel documents and their security features.

Special focus will be put on secure organization of application proceedings, inl. quality requirements of biometrics, classical identity document security features and eID, planned improvements of visa and border control information systems in the EU and in the USA.

The event is jointly organized by the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs (Bulgaria) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Germany).


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KEEP (Knowledge and Expertise in European Programmes) is a free, comprehensive and searchable database on Territorial Cooperation projects, project partners and programmes provided by InterAct. It is the only source of aggregated information regarding projects and beneficiaries of European Union programmes dedicated to cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, including data on EU macro-regional strategies projects, and now containing 242 different projects in line with the EUSDR.

Besides the project data, KEEP also provides information on project beneficiaries and which Priority Area the projects are contributing to. The search can also be combined with all other criteria in KEEP selecting "only EUSDR projects" in "Macro-regional strategies" search criterion. The results can also be downloaded in excel format for further analysis.


Austria, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Slovakia are joining forces to support cross-border multilateral co-operation the Danube Region.

Using their existing bilateral agreements the countries have decided to launch a pilot call allowing researchers from at least three of these countries to work together through supporting the mobility of researchers among the participating countries to carry out joint research projects. In this regard, funding will be made available for visits and exchanges of scientists conducting joint research.

Aims of the call are:

  • To contribute to scientific advancement in the abovementioned countries by funding researchers’ mobility in the frame of joint research projects;
  • To contribute to research capacity development in the region;
  • To support the advancement of cross-border research cooperation; and
  • To provide an opportunity for young/female researchers in the abovementioned countries to cooperate in an international setting and to develop their scientific careers.

Deadline for project applications is the 30th of September 2016 and projects are expected to start in January 2017.

For the detailed application modalities please refer to the attached Call Guidelines (PDF).

Download this file (Call_Guideline_Danube_region.pdf)Call_Guideline_Danube_region.pdf[ ]278 kB

The Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission (DG ECHO) organized a four-day scoping mission between 4-7th of July 2016 to Solotvino (Ukraine), where the abandoned and neglected salt mine poses a significant contamination threat of the Tisza River and also threatens the livelihoods of those living in the region. The five-member scoping mission team was made up of British, Finnish, French, Hungarian and Latvian experts.

A few years ago, a significant amount of salt concentrate was measured on the Hungarian section of the Tisza River, which gave the situation at Solotvino an important cross-border element. The current state of affairs at the site requires quick and efficient measures that will provide secure housing to those living in Solotvino, and will also mitigate the negative cross-border environmental consequences of the Tisza River contamination.

In coordination of the Secretariat for the Danube Region Strategy Ministerial Commissioner of Hungary, the disaster management services of Ukraine and Hungary have requested the support of the European Commission in January 2016, in order to comprehensively map out of the cross border environmental emergency situation at Solotvino. The abandoned salt mines continuously contaminate the Tisza River with unknown quantities of salt, while the residential buildings of the area are also under constant threat because of the quickly forming craters (some craters can reach depths of 110-120 meters, and can form in matter of hours).

As an immediate result of the scoping mission, a Terms of Reference has been created by the members of the mission, which outlines the need for immediate action in the area. The Hungarian EUSDR Secretariat – being the co-coordinator of PA4 and PA5 – will continue playing a significant role in finding a sustainable solution to this crisis.


The EuroAccess has helped users from the Danube Region to find EU funding opportunities for their project ideas since 2016. Now, EuroAccess has been expanded to support the ­­Baltic Sea Region, Adriatic-Ionian Region and Alpine Region as well.

Visit EuroAccess Macro-Regions!

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The 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region will be jointly organised by the European Commission and the Slovak Republic on 3 and 4 November 2016 in the premises of the Slovak National Theatrein Bratislava.

The forum entitled "Innovative Flows - Water, Knowledge and Innovation in the Danube Region" will focus on water management and research and innovation in the Danube region. The participants will have the opportunity to discuss the results and future of the strategy. Workshops of the 5th Annual Forum will cover issues such as water management, knowledge society, governance of the S trategy or links to the EU funds. The forum will also feature the "Scientific Support to the Danube Strategy" by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

Registrations will open in September, please save the date already now.


Working Together for a Green, Competitive and Inclusive Europe

The EEA Agreement is the mainstay of the cooperation between Norway and the EU. The Agreement includes a common goal to work together to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe. Norway contributes to this through the EEA and Norway Grants. For the period 2014-2021, Norway will provide approximately EUR 2.8 billion in support to 15 EU member states. The Grants are allocated to sectors that are crucial for development in the beneficiary country, and where there is potential for, and interest in, cooperation with Norway.

The five areas identified for funding under the Grants both supplement and complement the areas supported by the EU Cohesion Fund:

#1 Innovation, Research, Education and Competitiveness
#2 Social inclusion, Youth Employment and Poverty Reduction
#3 Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Low Carbon
#4 Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights
#5 Justice and Home Affairs

Beneficiary states from the Danube Region (amounts received in million EUR):
Bulgaria: 210.1
Croatia: 103.4
Czech Republic: 184.5
Hungary: 214.6
Romania: 502.5
Slovenia: 37.7
Slovakia: 113.1

For more information visit


Download this file (EEA and norway grants.pdf)EEA and norway grants.pdf[ ]2346 kB