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CALL FOR INTEREST for Technical Assistance support project

for the coordination of EUSDR Priority Area 5 - Environmental Risks


Danube Strategy Point invites the eligible Priority Area Coordinator for PA 5 to present a project proposal for Technical Assistance support with the objective of supporting coordination of Priority Area 5 (Environmental Risks) of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (hereafter EUSDR).

Technical Assistance provides financial support in order to help the Priority Area Coordinator in coordination and implementation of the EUSDR (in respective Priority Area) and facilitation/preparation of integrated projects.

The project proposal must be submitted by the eligible Priority Area Coordinator. Although each Priority Area Coordinator is to submit its own project application, applications must be coordinated and synchronised with other Priority Area Coordinator on the level of the Priority Area. The project selected for financing must present clear connection and contribution to the Action Plan defined for the Priority Area (including planning, targets, indicators and timetables) as well as effective measures for (facilitating) cooperation between project promoters, programmes and funding sources.

The project application must contain full, detailed and complete information with regards to eligibility, procedures, co-financing rates and all other relevant details.

Please note that the conditions laid down in each document of the application will be binding on the successful applicant; so please read them carefully.

The maximum total amount of Technical Assistance support is 60,000.00 EUR.

Reimbursement of 95% of the eligible costs of the project (up to the maximum total amount of Technical Assistance support) applies.

The eligibility period for the Priority Area Coordinator’s activities is in general from 15 February 2016 to 31 December 2016.

Further details on eligible costs and rules on their eligibility can be found in application documents, especially Eligibility Rules - Annex IV. 

The project application must be completed using the application documents (templates) only and signed by the legal representative of the applicant.

Complete project application should be composed of:

- duly completed and signed Project application form - Annex II;

- duly completed and signed Estimated budget of the project – Annex III a; and,

- copy of template agreement and Annex I, paragraphed on each page.

The application can be submitted via email (signed and scanned in PDF format) or by post until 15 February 2016, 12:00pm (Brussels time) – receipt time.

Late applications will not be considered. Submission of variations of the same project is not allowed. A request for additional information or information on the result of the assessment will be sent by the DSP to the applicant 30 days after the application deadline at the latest. 

For further details, please contact the DSP at info [AT] dsp [DOT] bwl [DOT] de

Nine cities with outstanding success in boosting innovation have reached the final stage of the European Capital of Innovation Award 2016 sponsored by the European Commission. From the Danube Region the City of Vienna has been selected as one amongst the 9 best pioneer cities.

36 cities from 12 countries applied to this year's competition to succeed Barcelona, the winner of the first European Capital of Innovation award in 2014. The contestants are cities with over 100,000 inhabitants from EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020, the European research and innovation programme. The winner and two runners-up will be announced in spring 2016.



The Ministers responsible for Home Affairs and authorised representatives of the respective Ministries of the Danube Region countries, took part in the Ministerial Conference on Combating Terrorism in the Danube Region on 21 and 22 January 2016 in Sofia, Bulgaria. PA 11 partners and stakeholders - Europol, the Danube Strategy Point, SELEC, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Konrad Adenauer Foundation - were also attending the event.

Ministers agreed that in order to achieve efficiency in countering terrorism, the cooperation in the areas of prevention, border security, critical infrastructure protection from terrorist acts and information exchange should be intensified. They also shared the view that the common preventive capacity of the Danube Region should be strengthened through coordination of the national prevention strategies, regular exchange of experience and best practices and joint specialised training of experts where possible. To this end, the Ministers tasked their experts to consult further and propose specific common initiatives on countering terrorism in the Danube Region.



Coordinators of all EUSDR Priority Areas are meeting in Brussels on 14-15 January to discuss various operational and management iussues to be tackled throughout 2016.

The following topics are on the agenda:

1) General overview and state of play

2) Communications 

3) Technical Assistance management

4) Financial management

5) EUSDR strategic projects and Reporting on Danube Strategy implementation

6) Embedding Macro-Regional Strategies in the EU Funding Programmes

7) Revision of EUSDR targets

Documents and presentations from the meeting can be downloaded below.


The European Union supports businesses and entrepreneurship through a wide range of programmes. Specific focus is given to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as they form the largest share of EU businesses and provide the majority of jobs and turnover. SMEs are also important for EU regional competitiveness, as they often operate on a local scale and play a crucial role in strong regional economies.

In addition to financial assistance, the EU offers various types of business support, such as information, advice and training. The EU also supports SMEs through regulatory changes, such as eliminating obstacles in cross-border trade and streamlining administrative procedures. Providing access to finance is, however, a major EU SME policy priority, as small enterprises encounter the greatest difficulties to procure funding. European SMEs rely predominantly on bank loans, therefore the EU not only provides direct grants, but also tries to increase the credit available to SMEs.

Additional steps are taken to develop innovative financing instruments, such as risk-sharing schemes and guarantees, in order to mobilise venture and equity investors, and to encourage expanded use of capital markets for financing SMEs. SMEs applying for EU funding can do so via several sources. Grants from the European Structural and Investment Funds, which finance cohesion policy, are accessed through calls for application published by national and regional authorities who manage the funds. Various financial instruments (such as loans and microcredits), provided by the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund, are available through local financial intermediaries, who offer loans to SMEs on preferential terms. Lastly, SMEs can apply directly for funding by programmes managed by the European Commission, such as Horizon 2020, COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium- sized Enterprises) and others, in areas including environment, transport, research and innovation.

Read the full report here:



Shift2Rail, the Joint Undertaking backed by the Commission and the rail industry, has today published its first calls for proposals, endowed with €170 million to support innovation in railways. The Commission will contribute €90 million, with the other €80 million being brought by the members of Shift2Rail.

In order to be funded, projects will have to demonstrate their ability to increase the quality, reliability and punctuality of rail services while cutting its costs and facilitating cross-border travel. This first batch of calls covers the five Shift2Rail Innovation Programmes and is split into two categories: calls reserved for Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking members only, for a total value of €63.7 million, and open calls for a total value of €26.1 million. The open calls will be available to companies, universities, research institutes and others who are not Shift2Rail members.

The Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) is a new public-private partnership in the rail sector, established under Horizon 2020, to provide a platform for coordinating research activities with a view to driving innovation in the rail sector in the years to come. It was established on 7 July 2014, following the entry into force of Council Regulation (EU) No 642/2014 of 16 June 2014 establishing the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking  .

For more information :


The Hungarian leadership of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) Water Quality and Environmental Risks Priority Areas held its Second Stakeholder Seminar in Budapest on 19-20 November 2015 paying special attention to the issue of funding possibilities. The event provided a comprehensive cooperation platform and offered an opportunity for alignment of funding with cohesion policy instruments and other potential sources specifically for water stakeholders.

Dozens of water management projects aiming at engaging international partners as well as development ideas of water management bodies of each country were presented by 162 participants and 42 speakers from 11 countries in Budapest. The European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the newly set up Danube Strategy Point representatives were present, similarly to several international water organizations and water experts from Danube countries. 

Mr István JOÓ, the host Hungarian Danube Region Strategy Ministerial Commissioner stressed that issues such as water quality or flood protection cannot be treated efficiently at national level and the success of the regional approach is clearly reflected by the improved water quality of Danube River. Hungary is coordinating the Danube regional cooperation and helping the non-EU member States integration efforts on areas of particular importance – such as energy, water quality or flood protection.

The Seminar’s keynote speakers emphasised that five years after the launch of the EUSDR the integration is strengthened among EU and non-EU countries and the Danube Transnational Programme has been launched with about 263 million euros grant. Mr Matija VILFAN, Head of the Danube Strategy Point, who chaired the first session pointed out that cooperation between the Danube Countries has entered into a new phase, meaning a more policy oriented debate and more focus on funding opportunities. Mr Marco ONIDA, Team Leader of the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy reminded that countries still face challenges, better promotion of innovation, business support in water management, and stronger cooperation between countries is required. Adequate strategic planning is requested from Danube countries and the focus has to be put on the results to be in line with Europe2020 Strategy and beside joint cooperation more efficient use of funds is requested.

Following the keynote speeches of Hungarian, Slovakian and Romanian national coordinators and representatives the Water Quality and Environmental Risks Priority Area Coordinators of the Danube Strategy presented their state of play, followed by presentations of the Joint Research Centre and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), focusing on science, policy and programme of measures 2015-2021.

In the second session the participants had a possibility to learn about the financial possibilities in the current programming period and were offered presentations about many programmes, such as about the key features and opportunities of Financial Instruments under ESI Funds 2014-2020, about Horizon 2020, the LIFE Programme, the Central Europe Programme, the Danube Transnational Programme, the Cross Border Cooperation Programs and the financing possibilities within the European Investment Bank.

In the third session of the first day successful project examples and best water sector practices were demonstrated (such as Watlife, URBAN_WFTP,  SEE River and  FLOODRISK projects) and experienced speakers shared their views about how to establish water consortium for projects in the new calls.  

The 2nd day offered the possibility for partner search process: focused presentations were shared with the audience from Austria, Czech Republic, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary presenting country needs and assists in the alignment of funding procedure for future project beneficiaries by promoting further project ideas. Representatives of EIP Water Secretariat, the European Water Association and the Global Water Partnership shared their views on successful project set ups for water. Based on prefilled networking templates participants could take the floor to present their project ideas and networking needs in front of the plenary.

Finally, as a closing event the conference provided a unique platform for networking in four different sessions with experienced moderators: 1. Water scarcity, regional drought management; 2. Water security, regional safety centres, floods; 3. Water quality innovations and 4. Water management: fisheries, resource efficient water management, groundwater. The importance of cross-region cooperation and project development have been repeatedly mentioned; specific cooperation options have been explored, such as sharing best available practices in using innovations and the need to create special calls for bringing innovation on the market. The networking sessions proved to be a success, participants expressing strong interest in follow up events and  further assistance from the Danube Strategy in the alignment of funding that could result in joint projects.

More info:

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Danube Competence Center (DCC)

in cooperation with the Danube Strategy Point of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR)  Priority Area 3 “To promote culture, tourism and people-to-people contact”, the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia (NTO)  with the support of  the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) project „Regional program to strengthen the cross border tourism at the Middle and Lower Danube“ and the Regional Development Agency of Bačka

are cordially inviting you to the panel discussion

“Living the future on the Danube”

SMART Growth – Is tourism an answer for economic challenges in the Danube region?


Monday,  7 December 2015, 18h30 – 22h30

Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, Rue Belliard 60-62, Brussels


18h30 Aperitif

19h00 Welcome address by Matija Vilfan, Head of the Danube Strategy Point

           Panel discussion with contributions by

           Michael Cramer MEP, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, European Parliament

           Carlo Corazza, Head of Unit "Tourism, Creative and Emerging Industries", DG GROW, EC

           Marek Przeor, Team Leader “Smart and Sustainable Growth”, DG Regional and Urban Policy, EC

           Gordana Plamenac, Chairman of the Board of Directors, DCC, Belgrade, Serbia

           Helge Grammerstorf, Chairman of the IG River Cruise, Basel, Switzerland

The panel discussion will be followed by a reception.

The panel discussion will highlight the main tourism development issues of the Danube region and how they are interlinked with other spheres important for strengthening and connecting the Danube region.  The panelists will point out topics such as SMART Specialization agenda along the Danube, labour mobility, accessibility and territorial identity of the region.

The National Tourism Organisation of Serbia as the founding member of the DCC and contributor to EUSDR PA3 “To promote culture, tourism and people-to-people contact” will use the opportunity to show the promotional film as  part of its thematic campaign for 2016 “Danube Serbia – 588 impressions”, created with the support of Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the DCC.

Please confirm your participation at info [AT] danubecc [DOT] org by sending your name and organization. (Please note that due to the current high security level in Brussels, ID cards will be checked at the reception.)

Find more information about the DCC at  and or download our portfolio from:


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for Internships at the Danube Strategy Point in Brussels 

Update 29/06/2016: Applications for 2016 are closed - all internship positions have been filled until the end of the year

The Danube Strategy Point (DSP) has been established in 2015 by the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission and the State of Baden-Württemberg, which is hosting the DSP in its offices in Brussels. Our main mission is improving the implementation process of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) and enhancing and strengthening the cooperation and interaction between various stakeholders in the region, including 9 EU member states and 5 non-member countries.  

The internship training period involves gaining work experience at the DSP where interns can put into practice the knowledge they have acquired during their studies. Interns will be under the supervision of the Head of theDSP or an assigned Senior Officer. Daily responsibilities will depend on the individual’s background, involving carrying out desktop research as well as contributing to organisational tasks.

Selection criteria: Interested applicants from the 14 programme countries of the Danube Strategy are invited to apply. The internship programme is open to students who are enrolled at higher education institution or other graduate programme preferably with specialization in an area relevant to the work of the organisation. The working language of the DSP is English, but knowledge of additional languages of the Danube region would be an advantage.

Please note that applicants from non-EU countries will have to apply for a type-B work permit (more information available here).

Envisaged starting date: January 2016 / April 2016 / September 2016

Duration period: 3 months

Allowances: A contribution of EUR 450 per month towards living costs will be paid by the DSP. Applicants who lived outside of Belgium in the past 6 months will be eligible for reimbursement of a return ticket between the place of internship and their country of residence.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.


Joint Statement of Ulm on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region

Ulm, 29 October 2015

On the margins of the 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), Ministers in charge of EU Funds, European Affairs or European Integration from the participating States and Regions and the European Commissioner for Regional Policy gathered in Ulm and agreed on the following joint statement.

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 Photo credits: Grasshopper Films/ Eva Oswald

"Building up on the positive experience of previous meetings of line ministers, the participants welcomed this ministerial meeting focusing on the link between the EUSDR and different programmes and funds. They agreed that full-fledged ownership of the EUSDR, based on the commitments made by the participating countries, requires active engagement of all relevant ministers to align policies and funding with the Strategy.

Currently the Danube Region countries’ average GDP per capita only reaches about two‐thirds of the level of the EU 28 Member States and less than 60% of the level of the OECD countries. In addition, there are major development disparities within the Danube Region, which hinder social, economic and territorial cohesion. The development of sustainable initiatives, projects and investments, especially in less developed regions, is a key factor in stimulating economic growth. European, national and regional funds play a crucial role in supporting the necessary investments in infrastructure, economic development, human capital and strengthening institutional and administrative capacity.

Ministers reiterated that the success of the EUSDR implementation requires the alignment of relevant programmes and use of these EU Funds in line with the EUSDR Priority Areas and targets.

Ministers welcomed the new opportunities, requirements and obligations laid down in the Cohesion Policy regulations and took note of the chances to use funds in a better and more efficient manner. Recalling the two “Joint technical Meetings of the EUSDR in the programming process for 2014-2020” of April 2013 in Bucharest and of June 2013 in Stuttgart on embedding the EUSDR in the Partnership Agreements and 2014 – 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Programmes and the equivalent instruments for non-EU countries (notably the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, and the European Neighbourhood Instrument), Ministers agreed that it is now vital to put into practice the provisions set out in the programming documents wherever appropriate and committed themselves to do so.

Ministers emphasised that EUSDR countries should put all efforts in using other possible funding sources on national, regional or local level and called upon the European Commission to further enable stronger synergies between EU Macro-Regional Strategies, regional multilateral agreements and EU Programmes directly managed by the European Commission such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Creative Europe, COSME, LIFE, CEF and the EU Fund for Strategic Investments.

Ministers agreed that the link between the European Territorial Cooperation Programmes (known as Interreg) and the EUSDR is crucial. These Programmes play an important role in fostering territorial cooperation in the Danube Region and in developing new transnational and cross-border projects. By including non-EU Countries, they can also contribute to enhance cohesion and cooperation and foster economic development and European integration within the Danube Region. In this respect, Ministers welcomed the recent adoption of the Danube Transnational Programme by the European Commission. At the same time the role of the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programmes in the Danube Region needs to be more emphasized and promoted where appropriate.

Ministers also acknowledged that enhanced cooperation and coordination generate significant benefits to all interested parties. They call upon the European Commission and the National Coordinators, supported by the Danube Strategy Point, to provide an effective coordination and facilitate communication and information exchange with organisations responsible for the management of the different EU funds and programmes to the benefit of all EUSDR actors, using also synergies with other regional agreements. In this respect, Ministers highlighted the increasing cooperation between the Monitoring Committee of the Danube Transnational Programme and the EUSDR governance structures. This kind of cooperation should also be explored and appropriately developed in relation to country-specific Operational Programmes.

Ministers highlighted possible options that could further facilitate the embedding of the EUSDR into the 2014 – 2020 ESIF Operational and Cooperation Programmes and the equivalent instruments for non-EU countries where appropriate and within the scope and provisions of the existing Regulations and Operational and Cooperation Programmes. Ministers took note of pilot exercises in this field already undertaken by certain countries in cooperation with the European Commission.

Ministers stressed the importance of the ongoing exchange of information about successfully implemented mechanisms and good practices of the smart use of various regional, national and EU funding possibilities for relevant EUSDR projects. In this regard, they agreed to take further steps to:

  • Improve the exchange of information: Transparent and timely communication and exchange of information between the actors managing the ESIF Programmes and the equivalent instruments for non-EU countries, and those in charge of the EUSDR implementation (National Coordinators, Priority Area Coordinators, Steering Group Members) is vital in building trust and represents a basis for new partnerships and also more effective cooperation. In order to create synergies between financed projects and that they build upon each other, it is necessary to ensure exchange of information on projects financed in different countries and from different instruments. In this respect, the permanent strategic advisory role of the European Commission is crucial.
  • Enhance coordination: Coordination between the relevant ESIF Operational and Cooperation Programmes and the equivalent instruments for non-EU countries and EUSDR actors is of essential importance. EUSDR actors have an overview of the targets of the Strategy and may advise on projects contributing to theachievement of these targets. Where appropriate Managing Authorities, National Coordinators, Priority Area Coordinators and Steering Group Members should identify ways to enable ongoing coordination, e.g. by involving them into Monitoring Committees, by setting up dedicated coordination meetings or by using synergies with existing mechanisms. National coordination mechanisms are crucial in this respect and have to take the respective context into consideration. The European Commission and the Danube Strategy Point should play an active role in supporting this coordination and cooperation processes.
  • Streamline project selection: Within the applicable legal framework and where appropriate, the 2014-20 ESIF Programmes can use part of the funds to co-finance actions or projects of macro-regional scope and interest (e.g. by stimulating the inclusion of a specific work package for cooperation activities). Where appropriate, Managing Authorities and Monitoring Committees should, in cooperation with the relevant EUSDR actors, develop and apply specific project selection criteria recognising the added value of macro-regional projects and their contribution to the EUSDR Priority Areas and targets. Furthermore, appropriate calls may foresee – inter alia – the allocation of bonus points to projects contributing to the implementation of the EUSDR targets and actions.
  • Consider EUSDR related calls: Ministers take note of examples of Operational Programmes which have ear-marked a certain percentage of their funds for actions which may have a macro-regional impact. Where relevant, such calls aim at allocating funds in a well-targeted manner through specific calls for EUSDR projects within Priority Axis of Operational Programmes or to a duly justified limited geographical perimeter.
  • Facilitate exchange of experience and development of joint solutions within the Danube Region: There are different options for programmes and EUSDR actors to share experiences and to jointly develop new solutions for a better administration and use of funds. In this respect, the new Interreg Europe Programme (former INTERREG IV C), which is mainly targeted at Managing Authorities, helps to enhance the implementation of regional development policies and programmes.

In conclusion, Ministers called upon all interested parties to join efforts and continue to ensure progress in the implementation process of the EUSDR by identifying and promoting suitable projects that can add value for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Danube Region."


Study by Daniel Měsíc, EU Energy and Climate Policy Expert, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (PA2)

"The gas crises in 2006 and 2009 hit hard, not because of the lack of supply, but because of the lack of infrastructure. These crises, and the profound changes on the global gas market, call for measures to be undertaken now in Central and Eastern Europe. Development of infrastructure is needed in order to strengthen Europe’s energy security, and to be able to benefit from expanding western liquid markets, and beyond this, potentially from LNG supplies from overseas. Among the actions to be undertaken, the so called bi-directional connections (BDICs) play a key role."



Read the full article in the Central Europe Energy Partners Report No.7/2015 on page 10-11.