The Danubian countries of Europe refers to the independent nations that have direct access to the Danube River. In other words, the Danube either runs through the country or forms part of its border. The Danube is the second longest river in Europe and runs for a total of 1,776 miles. Interestingly, it is the only lengthy river on the continent that flows from east to west.
The countries located within the area of the Danube River are collectively referred to as the Danubian Region. Some accounts suggest that the Danubian Region is made up of the entire Danube catchment area. Those nations located along the course of the actual Danube River include: Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Germany. When considering the entire catchment area, the Danubian region consists of 14 countries, 9 of which belong to the European Union (EU). The additional nations that make up this particular definition include: Montenegro, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moldova and Ukraine are included as neighboring countries, but geographically speaking, these nations do not have direct access to the Danube River. Other accounts consider the entire Danube drainage basin, which covers 19 independent countries.
The 14 countries that make up the Danubian Region cover a total area of around 308,881 square miles and have a combined population size of approximately 120 million individuals. The Danubian Region is located as far inland as the Black Forest of Germany and runs all the way to the coastline of the Black Sea. It is considered a strategic position for trade and other economic activity within Europe.
Planning for the Future of Danubian Countries
Given the strategic location, the Danubian countries are of significant economic importance to the European Union. The first move toward bringing these countries closer together and into one geographic region occurred in 2002, when the governments of Romania and Austria attempted a collaboration project. In 2009, the same two nations took their efforts to the European Union in support of an EU-backed strategy for the region. The idea was dubbed the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and was initiated in June 2009 by the European Council, which requested that the European Commission create a regional strategy for these countries.
EU Strategy for the Danube Region
The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was officially created in June of 2011. In order to accomplish its 2010 draft deadline, the European Commission conducted a number of international meetings and negotiations with the political leaders and non-governmental entities of the Danubian countries. The strategy for the economic future of the Danubian countries consists of four principal objectives. These objectives, referred to as the pillars of the strategy, are: to create interconnectivity throughout the Danubian countries by way of infrastructure projects; to ensure the environment is healthy and protected; to improve the economic health of the region through competitive business practices and increased access to education; and to lower rates of crime. Representatives from the Danubian countries meet once a year to discuss implementation of the strategy. Since 2012, these meetings have been held in a different city each year.