The project offers a joint integrated approach for the whole Romania-Bulgaria cross-border area and it addresses a functional area; in this way, the project goes beyond the constraints imposed by national boundaries. Taking a holistic approach, and taking into account the economic, social and environmental elements, the strategic nature of the project is highlighted in the proposed activities:

The project defines and builds the framework for cooperation in order to facilitate the use/exploitation of the territorial capital with the purpose to facilitate competitiveness and innovation for the entire program area, and also to protect and improve the environment and furthermore, the project helps define the next financial period (2014-2020) for both countries by identifying and prioritizing high-impact interventions to a cross-border area in the context of the European Union development and of the promoted priorities.

The administrative territory analyzed in the project includes:

Cross-border impact:

The project would ensure a coherent and integrated approach of the lower stream of the Danube, an area that includes one of the longest borders in Europe, with a 610 km frontier out of which 470 km on the Danube, a structuring element at European level. Furthermore, the project would ensure continuity and would set the basis for a transnational development strategy for the entire Danube. The project, drafted at NUTS III level, addresses an area of 71 930 sq km out of which 54.66 % is Romanian territory.

The project contributes to attaining the objectives of the Operational Programme for Cross-border cooperation 2007 – 2013 Romania-Bulgaria by mobilizing people, communities and economies from the Romanian – Bulgarian cross-border area in order to develop common projects of cross-border cooperation by using the resources of both countries. The strategy aims to create a common framework, a common vision for a territory that has common characteristics and challenges.

Project context:

The cross-border areas are marginalized areas, separated by a state border and in our case study by a natural frontier – river Danube takes more than 75% from cross-border line. The Romanian – Bulgarian cross-border area is affected by many challenges, but the main problems come from a lack of power of the big towns in structuring the territory, in 71.390 sq km are only 2 big towns with more than 300.000 inhabitants – Craiova and Constanta. Related to the cities network, another problem is the decline of the urban centers, especially those along the Danube, as a result of industrial decline, many of these cities being monofunctional. This led to massive loss of population -demographic change - an important part of young workforce migrating to other larger cities from Romania or Bulgaria, or in many situations, to other states.
Lack of connectivity is another major problem of the area, along the Danube is only one bridge, (in conditions, which, for example, only in Budapest are found 9 bridges) and also the lack of adequate transport infrastructure along the Danube.
Another important challenge is how the area is affected and how will tackle the climate change problems created - by important flooding (especially in the Romanian side) and the desertification of agricultural land - driven by the lack of irrigation infrastructure.
However, there are elements with great potential that need to be reinforced. The Danube represents a big potential for tourism; the existence in the studied area of an important development corridor, an urbanization corridor of - Bucharest - Giurgiu - Rousse - Veliko Tarnovo. In accordance with the development trend of the last century, Bucharest is developing strongly on a north-south axis. In order to obtain a balanced urban development pattern, the major projects of the municipality are located in the southern part of Bucharest, which means there is a concentration of population, activities and services. There are also important city pairs present on the two sides of the Danube - Vidin-Calafat, Turnu Magurele - Nikopol, Calarasi - Silistra, that through cooperation could strengthen the regional role, following the example of a mature model of cooperation - Giurgiu - Rousse.
Last but not least must be taken into account the territorial and cultural diversity and transform it into an added value element. At European level, the framework documents on territorial planning - Territorial Agenda and the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion (by overcoming the factors of distance and division), is supporting transnational and cross-border cooperation, in order to diminish the regional disparities within cooperation on specific areas, using the functional boundaries, not administrative.
Considering all these issues, and the opportunity given by the Danube Strategy which is established by the European Commission, the need to prioritize actions for the next financial year 2014-2020 and considering the financial crisis, it is essential to adopt a territorial development strategy in the cross-border area as a result of the multi-level governance cooperation, which would ensure a coherent approach of the two riversides of the Danube.
The drafting of this territorial strategy would ensure the creation of a common framework, a common vision for a territory that has common characteristics and would transform the peripheral area in a connector of flows in Southern and Eastern Europe.

The Lead partner is the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, Romania.

The 11 project partners from Romania and Bulgaria are:

  1. Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (Bulgaria)
  2. ARIES-Oltenia (Romania)
  3. Europroject (Romania)
  4. National Administration of land reclamation (Romania)
  5. District Administration – Pleven (Bulgaria)
  6. Human Resources Development Agency-Ruse (Bulgaria)
  7. BusinessSuportCenter for Small and Medium Enterprises (Bulgaria)
  8. ASDE-Ecoregions (Bulgaria)
  9. Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (Bulgaria)
  10. VelikoTarnovoMunicipality (Bulgaria)
  11. Association of Danube River Municipalities (Bulgaria)

The project implementation period: 32 months
Total value of the project: 4,758,687.83 EUR

The objectives taken into account are the following:

Target groups: