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Transport is key issue in the region: let’s cooperate

HUpresidencyThe CETC EGTC Strategic Centre attended the second Danube Region Strategy Conference organised by the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary on 27 June 2017 entitled “EU Strategy for Danube Region and the Western Balkans: Development of Trans-European Transportation Networks – Challenges and Opportunities”.

Are there any best practices? How can we facilitate cross-border infrastructure development? – these introductory questions opened the conference by Katalin Bihari, the Head of Secretariat of the Danube Region Strategy Ministerial Commissioner, who also emphasized the importance of increasing dialogue about the transportation focusing on the cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and Ukraine, and Moldova. The most urgent task is increasing the regional connectivity by infrastructure development, especially in the mentioned countries.

Cesare Bernabei, from DG MOVE of the European Commission, underlined that although it is well-known but still it must be underlined that the Balkan Peninsula is a crucial area since it connects Europe with East, Middle East and Far East.

The three invited experts approached the topic from different point of views. Dušan Prorokoviƈ from Serbia presented the Balkan countries whose main goal is to increase their transit character, however they struggle with political instability, relatively weak capability, bureaucracy and corruption. Therefore, in the field of transport construction in Balkan countries the progress is very slow. Szabolcs Vágvölgyi, energy adviser of Századvég Gazdaságkutató Zrt., presented his research on the assessment of the alternative road fuels infrastructure in the Danube Region and development path way to interoperability. Although final results will be presented only in October Mr Vágvölgyi provided for initial recommendations through study cases. Accordingly, from a climate policy perspective, e-mobility is superior to all technologies in almost all Danube Region countries. In addition, the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) sector should be developed based on its economic and environmental benefits and there are no other alternatives in freight transport, both on road and water. Ion Voicu Sucala from the Technology University of Cluj Napoca, Romania revealed the economic perspectives. Regarding the challenges he pointed out if there is no vision or this vision is not well-explained to the society, does not matter how many money is allocated by the EU, the success will be very poor.

Mr Bernaibei explained that the main driving force for environmental change in the Danube Basin is led by the EU, however, Member States and non-EU states should give more commitment to a new and effective tool for sustainable development and sustainable transportation in order to conserve the natural resources and environment for the future generations.

The event reflected to the 6th Annual Forum of the Danube Strategy too which will be held on 18-19 October, 2017 organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary in cooperation with the European Commission and Danube Transnational Programme. The event will focus on three pillars: a secure, connected and prospering Danube Region. It is important to invite all stakeholders such as authorities at national and international level and operators to share their opinions. Moreover, the civil society should be also invited to remind us to the importance of the sustainable transport system.

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