Sofia Hosts Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region
The buoyancy along the Danube River should be improved in order to develop cruise tourism and freight transport. This priority was set by ministers and diplomats from 14 countries along the river. They gathered in Sofia on 18th of October for the Seventh Annual Forum of the European Strategy for the Danube Region. Tourism ministers signed a common tourism agreement, reports BNT.
The story of the Danube Strategy is a story about 9 European Union countries, 5 outside it and one river. On 18th and !9th of October, they visit the president of the strategy - Bulgaria. Tomorrow, Romania takers over the leadership.
The main goal of the strategy is the economic development of these countries through tourism. Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova reminded that Europe annually marks 600 million tourist visits and 125 million of the tourists visit the Danube region.
Nikolina Angelkova: The Danube region is extremely important for the Bulgarian tourism. More than 2 million and 800 thousand foreign tourists in the first 8 months of this year are from the Danube Region.
In order to increase their number, trans-European corridors 4,8, 9 and 10 have to be completed, says the minister of regional development.
Petya Avramova, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works: We should ensure good buoyancy along the Danube River. The construction of 3rd bridge over the Danube at Rousse, as well as several other alternative bridges crossing the Danube are not projects of local significance. That is why after 2020 it would be appropriate to provide new, complementary and flexible forms of funding.
Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva also reminded that for the current programming period there is no specific funding for the Danube Strategy. The costs are covered not by the European Union, but by the 14 member states of the strategy. Therefore, she called for "more visible funding".
Ekaterina Zaharieva: For this period, there are 262 million euros, which at first sight does not sound small, but on the other hand, for large strategic projects, the amount is extremely insufficient. So here we rely on Mrs Corina Crețu, and also on the EU Member States in the Danube Strategy.
The Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu, however, said that it is entirely up to the governments of each country how much money to spend on the strategy. She praised the progress of each of them, but she also criticized:
Corina Crețu: I am not happy because I see the example of the Baltic Strategy that I find as the best. This is not an EC strategy. This is the strategy of the countries in this region, we only help. That's why I do not understand why some of the countries do not offer enough projects.
She was also critical of herselfelf saying she did not manage to spend enough time on the strategy. However, she was hopeful that in the next programming period everything missed will be caught up.
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