Some 14 countries are to join forces to restore Europe’s mightiest river, the Danube, to its former glory.
The aim is to ensure the sustainable development of the key agricultural and trade resource and to protect its ecological balance and cultural heritage.
The Danube takes vast amounts of freight, supplies millions with drinking water, and irrigates some of Europe’s major grain baskets, so its health is vital.
“This achievement is even more striking if you compare it to other river basins in Europe where member states are still delayed with developing their plans like in Spain, and the achievement is even more striking if you consider that the Danube is the most international river basin in the world,” said WWF Water Policy officer Sergiy Moroz.
The Danube has become heavily polluted in some areas, and plans for it to carry even more traffic or generate more power have been slammed by environmentalists. Moroz says it is time to stop treating the river as an inexhaustible source of growth.
“This is our very clear call to the development of the Danube regional strategy to stop thinking in pillars, to stop thinking in compartments and really start integrating and making sure that the economic development of the region respects the natural foundations,” he said.
One problem is that the clean-up is supposed to be paid for out of existing funds. It has been suggested that 100 million euros could be used from the EU’s cohesion fund, that is normally used to bring new members up to scratch.
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