18 January 1994

Doc. 6992



on the preservation and development of the Danube basin

(Rapporteur: Mr ZIERER,

Germany, Group of the European People's Party)


      Following the democratic revolutions that took place in central and eastern Europe in 1989, the Danube, which has always been an important axis uniting Danubian peoples, has gained a new dimension in the context of the increased co-operation between the east and the west of Europe as a stimulator of economic and social development in the region.

      In order that the river may fully respond to these new challenges and develop its huge potential, an integrated approach towards the management of its basin is necessary, taking into account the existing economic, ecological, touristic, transport and regional planning aspects of its development. This implies not only a permanent dialogue between countries and regions along its banks, but also setting-up a structure capable of putting into action a pan-European policy in the region.

      It is in this context that the Assembly expresses its satisfaction with the results of the Second Interparliamentary Pan-European Conference on the Environment: the Danube Basin (Regensburg, Germany, 14-16 October 1993) and welcomes its conclusions, hoping that they will be put into practice as soon as possible.

I. Draft resolution

1.       The Danube lies at the heart of central and eastern Europe. It has a total length of 2 857 km and its catchment area represents roughly one-third of the area of Europe.

2.       The Danube basin — including the river itself and also all its tributaries — covers the whole of Hungary and Romania, nearly half the Czech and Slovak Republics, the greater part of Austria and the former Yugoslavia, large areas of Germany like Bavaria and part of the Bade-Würtemberg region, part of Bulgaria and areas of former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Moldova.

3.       Despite the tribulations endured by this region for centuries, most recently during the decades of communist rule, the Danube has always been a unifying factor, linking the peoples of the countries along its banks not only culturally, socially and historically, but also economically.

4.       Since the historic events of 1989 concerning central and eastern Europe, this river has taken on a great symbolic value and the development potential which its basin offers has emerged as a priority area for international co-operation in the region.

5.       The Danube basin could be the hub of integrated, balanced development of the entire region provided its economic potentials, transport, tourism and ecology are, developed and co-ordinated by means of action taken on a basis of consultation and co-operation between all the riparian countries and regions.

6.       This calls for a permanent dialogue between these states and regions in which it should be possible to frame all policies in such a way as to create synergies within a coherent overall whole.

7.       The Assembly is pleased to have taken the decision to devote the Second Pan-European Interparliamentary Conference on the Environment to the Danube basin. This conference held in Regensburg, Germany, from 14 to 16 October 1993 was a great success and produced some extremely practical conclusions.

8.       It was important to discuss the situation of this great river within a parliamentary forum and, in particular, see to what extent the many initiatives already taken in that connection are likely to lead — owing to a lack of co-ordination — to fragmentation and inconsistency, thus making it impossible to achieve the desired results.

9.       The Assembly particularly agrees with the conference that account should be taken in particular of the need for a new dimension to the planning of European territory, which should in fact be the spatial expression of a political programme and should integrate all ecological, hydrological, economic, communication, agricultural and demographic components.

10.       The Assembly has therefore to subscribe to the final declaration adopted at the end of the conference of Regensburg and to agree with the participants on the need to set up a body capable of implementing and co-ordinating a truly pan-European policy in this region.

11.       It also noted with satisfaction Romania's willingness to act as host country to such a body.

12.       The Assembly therefore decides:

i.       to draw up a European Danube basin charter which would lay down principles for permanent Danubian co-operation to be developed at intergovernmental level in association with elected representatives of the riparian states and regions;

ii.       to envisage such an instrument as the basis for the setting up of an international council of the Danube as recommended at the Regensburg Conference, which — under the aegis of the Council of Europe — would be chiefly responsible for seeing to:

      a.       the co-ordination of existing initiatives,

      b.       the introduction of new, complementary schemes,

      c.       permanent consultation and dialogue among all the riparian states and regions;

iii.       to involve the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) in the preparatory work on this charter;

iv.       to examine the above-mentioned project as soon as possible, in order to adopt and transmit it to the Committee of Ministers.

II. Explanatory memorandum

presented by Mr ZIERER



Foreword        3

Chapter I:       Management of the Danube basin: aspects        4

      1.       Ecological management        5

      2.       The Danube as a vector of communication        5

      3.       The Danube as a water resource       6

      4.       Tourist policy in the Danube region        7

      5.       Spatial planning in the Danube basin region        7

Chapter II:       Past and present co-operation in

the Danube basin       8

1.       The principal initiatives        8

2.       Co-operation achievements, shortcomings

and outlook        10

Chapter III:       2nd Interparliamentary Conference of

the Council of Europe Parliamentary

Assembly — Deliberations and

conclusions        10

Conclusions        11

Appendix 1       13

Appendix 2        13


      Since prehistoric times, the Danube river basin has drawn together many peoples' living environments and economies. Its historical and socio-cultural ties are manifold. Since it was first populated, and still more following the establishment of settlers from central Europe on the lower Danube, those living along its banks have been influenced by common cultural and economic antecedents.

      In a period characterised by an exponential growth in traffic flows which will soon become unmanageable, the Danube is of considerable importance as a river link in the Rhine-Main-Rhone water-way system. It is the key link in a high-capacity, environmentally compatible goods transportation network connecting the North Sea to the Black Sea. All the available traffic forecasts suggest that more intensive use of the Danube waterway for the transportation of goods is inevitable. Transit traffic in Europe, particularly north-south and vice versa, is in danger of grinding to a halt. The economic and trade prospects resulting from the changes in the east are in danger of being choked by exhaust fumes on congested roads. Effective means of relieving that congestion must be found as a matter of urgency.

      But the Danube is also itself threatened. Increasingly large quantities of untreated industrial and domestic effluent continue to be discharged into the river. Because of excessive use of fertilisers by agriculture, disturbingly high nitrate levels are being recorded. The many dams and hydro-electric power stations such as Gabcikovo, are causing appreciable harm to the environment. The engineering projects of recent decades have led to the disappearance of backwaters, marshy areas and water meadows, and of banks still in their natural state. As a result, the habitats of countless species of fauna and flora have been destroyed. Though resources have been made available unstintingly, ecological compensatory measures of the sort taken during the construction of the Main-Danube canal, while effective, remain inadequate in the context of the rivers a whole. There have been significant effects on the management of ground water. Flash floods have become increasingly frequent, requiring additional protection measures. Schemes to make the river navigable by high-tonnage vessels have also changed the speed of its current, and thus its flow, resulting in a continuing need for other hydro-engineering works.

      The breakup of the eastern bloc and the return of the states of eastern Europe to the European fold have greatly improved the prospects for developing the Danube economic zone. Following the development of the Rhine-Main-Danube link into a large-capacity navigable waterway, if appropriate supporting measures are taken with regard to regional policies and structures, it is possible to predict a higher-than-average growth in the sectors of transportation and distribution of goods, provision of services, manufacturing and processing, leisure and tourism. Consequently, this multinational development axis must be regarded as one of the most promising regions of Europe in that regard.

      For some time now the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities has been taking considerable interest in all aspects of the question of the Danube.

      All these subjects — the question of transfrontier co-operation; problems of the ecological protection of the Danube, and particularly of its delta; the regional planning policy that must serve as the framework for an integrated approach to management of the river; the question of protection and management of the river's water resources; and the question of better exploitation of the Danube as a waterway — have had high priority in the committee's programme of work.

      Before the recent interparliamentary conference in Regensburg, an initial hearing on the subject was held during the 1992 summer session in Budapest. At that meeting it became apparent that there was a desire to study the matter further, taking stock of the various aspects of management of the Danube river basin, enumerating the various existing initiatives and examining their scope, so as to be able to make concrete proposals with a view to ensuring the protection and rehabilitation of the Danube as a component of the natural heritage, and making it a factor in the development of a region that constitutes the meeting point of east and west. That is what your Rapporteur proposes to do in this report.

Chapter I:       Management of the Danube basin: aspects

1.       Ecological management

      The Danube, which rises in the Black Forest and flows into the Black Sea, ranks second among our continent's rivers (length 2 850 km); its catchment area covers 817 000 km2, about one-twelfth of Europe's total surface.

      Human activities have alas radically altered the natural character of the Danube region, reduced its biological diversity, severely polluted the stream and affected the groundwater.

      Insensitive treatment of the ecosystem can have very serious effects, and unfortunately this has already happened in a number of cases. Projects to develop the basin are liable to reduce the river's rate of flow, lower its level and cause major changes in groundwater depth and hence in the level of wells sunk into the water table. In turn, these hydrological alterations bring about soil impoverishment and disappearance of marshes, wetlands and forests. The ill-effects of this process on animal and plant life are easily imaginable under such conditions.

      Where pollution of surface water is concerned, the river has become a virtual sewer for the eight countries through which it flows. Domestic and industrial effluent and shipping are responsible for destroying its biological and chemical balance and modifying its ecology. Likewise, the concentration of nutrients is on an upward trend, so that bacterial contamination increases at the same rate as eutrophication. Attention should also be drawn to the ill-effects of disseminated pollution arising from over-use of fertilisers by farmers.

      The Danube delta, among the world's unique ecosystems, has naturally been subjected to pollution carried by the current from upstream. Furthermore, the ecological condition of the region has deteriorated in the wake of the colossal development projects conceived and partly implemented under the Ceausescu regime. The development of enormous agricultural concerns and the construction of a shipway across the delta are the most striking examples of projects which have caused frequently irreparable damage.

      In this context, mention should also be made of the grave implications of Danube pollution for the ecological health of the Black Sea; some 132 km3 of waste per year are drained seaward by the river, with the result that overall coastal pollution far exceeds the standard level.

      In response to the gravity of the situation, work on the Convention on the Preservation of the Danube river was commenced (see also Chapter II of this report). The convention, due to take effect in 1994, will impose stringent limitations, for example, restrictions on toxic emissions, prompt elimination of untreated municipal drainage, overhaul of farming methods and implementation of priority action programmes.

      In addition, special attention must be paid to the transport of toxic substances. As a result of outreach to eastern Europe, certain countries of western Europe (Germany for instance) have been using the Danube waterway for the carriage of highly toxic substances to Hungary and Romania in particular. In this matter, with a view to preventing any repetition of such practices, the Rapporteur stresses the overriding need to enforce the Basle Convention on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes.

2.       The Danube as a vector of communication

      The Danube waterway constitutes a major European communications route whose importance has increased significantly in recent years, since its axis serves the new market demands generated by the reconciliation of eastern and western Europe. The river is indeed a valuable asset to the countries of eastern Europe seeking a westward transport route for their goods.

      In these circumstances, river traffic is bound to expand on the Danube (which offers 3 200 km of navigable waterways). Indeed, both economics and ecology bear out the growth potential of river shipping, especially for carrying certain types of goods (oil, semi-finished products and foodstuffs).

      Unfortunately, the preference hitherto has been to direct investments at other transport facilities than the Danube waterway, with the result it cannot compete as it should because its overall development falls short of the optimum standards.

      Provision was already made in the Belgrade Convention on Danube Navigation (18 August 1948) for several necessary engineering projects. Some (particularly those concerning the Iron Gate) have been partly executed while others have yet to be carried out (the problematic Slovakian-Hungarian section between Reika and Szob, regulation above and below Budapest, development of the Straubing-Vilshofen reach in German territory, etc.). In this context, the recent opening of the Rhine-Main-Danube canal was a truly momentous event fulfilling a whole generation's dream of through navigation from Basel in Switzerland to Ismaïl in the Danube Delta.

      Nevertheless, the development of the Danube for shipping and the regulation of its flow to obtain water power are liable to cause major environmental damage by interfering with groundwater deposits, impoverishing plant and animal life and blighting the landscape. It is therefore crucial that the imperatives of landscape design and nature conservation should be fully integrated into river engineering schemes. Indeed, the rapporteur considers it altogether feasible to discover solutions in keeping with ecological demands and holds that in certain cases the development of the river might even provide a means of upgrading the present ecological status.

      The representatives of all interested parties must therefore pursue a constructive dialogue founded on a spirit of compromise and determination to work out solutions which are both environmentally compatible and conducive to economic development. This line of reasoning obviously calls for the implementation of an instrument on the management of the Danube uniting all agencies involved.

3.       The Danube as a water resource

      The Danube is the main source of water supply for nine riparian towns of over 100 000 inhabitants and a number of smaller settlements, and it feeds very extensive underground aquifers.

      For example, 94% to 96% of the surface water used to supply the Hungarian population with drinking water is drawn from the Danube and to a lesser extent from the River Tisza. In Budapest, the largest city in the Danube basin with 2 million inhabitants, a delivery meeting a daily demand of 1 million cubic metres is obtained from two pumping stations 40 km distant from Budapest, one to the north and the other to the south. The water is filtered at the riverside and individual consumption amounts to 200 litres per day while industrial and public consumption works out at 300 litres per day, per resident.

      Agriculture and industry are also large water consumers. All along the river, industries are sited on the banks — hydro-electric (and even nuclear) power stations, oil refineries, steelworks, chemicals factories, sugar refineries, mines, shipyards, paper and cellulose factories among others.

      The Danube's function as a provider of drinking water amply justifies the containment of pollution in all its forms. At present, for example, 100 000 dwellings in Budapest are not connected to the sewage treatment system, with the result that 640 000 cubic metres of sewage per day are emptied into the river either directly or after mechanical treatment only. A mere 20% of this effluent can be regarded as properly treated. In another large city, Bratislava (Slovakia), the situation appears to give greater cause for optimism; 425 000 of Bratislava's 450 000 inhabitants are connected to the sewage treatment system. Three waste reprocessing plants are in operation (a third will shortly be completed) and the goal for the year 2050 is to ensure biological treatment of all sewage.

      Where the agricultural sector is concerned, the countless wells sunk into the water table make it vital to convert farmers to a new attitude of respect for the environment and more sparing use of fertilisers.

      In the light of the need to raise funds for sewage treatment, a more stringent system of charges is an indispensable measure (obviously to be backed by a workable system of fines applying specifically to pollution-causing economic agencies).

       This is a question of applying the rule that external costs should be incorporated into total production costs (that is to say internalised). However, self-financing would be an unrealistic aim considering the political limits to increases in water rates and their repercussions on the standard of living, especially for the least prosperous.

4.       Tourist policy in the Danube region

      Considering the scenic beauty of the Danube region, the expansion of tourism, particularly in recent years, is hardly surprising. Tourism has indeed become a further bond linking the riparian countries. The combined effort by Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine to promote tourism is tangible proof of the high value universally placed on the Danube as a tourist attraction and also of tourism's importance as a factor of international co-operation for the development of the basin.

      The activities of the Danube Tourism Commission form an example of this co-operation. Founded in the 1970s and based in Vienna, the commission includes the seven countries mentioned above (the member status of the former Yugoslavia is in abeyance) and its purpose is to further the development of tourism in the region by a variety of methods: publishing advertising material, organising press conferences and trips for journalists, planning tour itineraries, etc. At present, the commission is engaged in launching programmes aimed at western investors to convince them of the profitability of investing in tourist infrastructures in the region.

      The Rapporteur would point out that the commission places emphasis on the development of "conservation" tourism, particularly water transport and water sports and development of the cycle track network, where efforts are being made to extend the route from the Austrian border to Budapest via Bratislava. As things stand, the cycle tracks along the Danube in Germany and Austria are already of central interest to cyclists, whose numbers increase by thousands at weekends.

5.       Spatial planning in the Danube basin region

      The application of a co-ordinated management strategy to the Danube basin presupposes the framing of a sound spatial planning policy for the whole area, as one component of an integrated, pan-European spatial planning policy.

      A policy covering the entire Danube river and tributaries drainage basin is the sole means of ensuring development throughout the macro-region which this area actually represents, notwithstanding the tendency to focus exclusively on the axis formed by the river itself.

      This "spatial error" of approach is illustrated in the UN/ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Water Courses and International Lakes, opened for signature in Helsinki in 1992. The Rapporteur does not seek to challenge the validity of this instrument which in fact makes a valuable contribution to the "cause" of major international rivers, often disadvantaged by their "division" among a number of countries.

      However, the main consideration in spatial planning terms is that under such a convention — like those which will be mentioned later in this report — the Danube is considered solely in relation to its own drainage basin without regard to its tributaries, which is an incomplete conception for the purposes of integrated management.

      Furthermore, the Danube flows through countries and regions whose state of economic development varies, sometimes significantly. For example, Bavaria's level of prosperity is three to five times greater than that of Bulgaria or Romania.

      In this respect too, a comprehensive, integrated spatial planning policy would provide a basis for a strategy of west-east solidarity and co-operation. Obviously, such a policy should give a prominent place to the regions which, as distinct from their central governments, must be in a position to make certain choices.

      Consequently, a policy, that is to say, a master plan for the development of the Danube region — while being framed in fairly specific terms — should allow regions and large cities some freedom and take into account the structural differences between the countries involved so as to foster the development of potential for exchanges at an interregional level.

      In view of all the aspects related to protection of the ecological heritage and balanced economic development which must be taken into account under a comprehensive policy for the Danube region, it is clearly indispensable to establish an "organising and co-ordinating framework" for the various operations.

Chapter II:       Past and present co-operation in the Danube basin

1.       The principal initiatives

      —Th       e Danube Commission was set up to perform the functions entailed by the implementation of the Convention regarding the Regime of Navigation of the Danube signed in Belgrade in 1948 by the riparian countries, viz. Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.Au

      Austria acceded to the convention on 7 January 1960, while German Federal Ministry of Transport experts and representatives of international organisations attend the commission's proceedings.

      The chief aim of the commission's activity is to "ensure free navigation on the Danube in conformity with the interests and the sovereign rights of the Danube countries, and to forge closer economic ties between the Danube countries themselves and between these and other countries".

      The commission's activity is quite intensive, but its recommendations and publications relate almost exclusively to navigation questions of a highly technical nature.

      —Th       e draft Ecological Convention on the Danube Basin (Secretariat in Budapest) is a joint initiative by Austria and Hungary dating from 1991, the intention of the two countries being to address the specific problem of deterioration in the water quality of the Danube, on the principle that the approach should encompass the entire catchment area.Th

      The originators of the convention set out to define the environmental characteristics of the Danube basin and, by implementing this instrument, to avert any environmental risk resulting from the development which the region is expected to undergo within the new geopolitical structure of Europe. The convention should also stimulate efforts to alleviate and eliminate transboundary environmental damage through more effective co-ordination of environmental protection and nature conservation.

      At the present stage, the draft convention has been forwarded to several intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations for opinion. A forthcoming meeting to be held in Budapest in 1994 will discuss a revised version of the convention drawn up on the basis of comments and proposals by these organisations.

      —Th       e draft Convention on the Preservation of the Danube River also dates from 1991; it is a German initiative with which the CSCE and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe are associated. Several meetings have already been held in order to prepare the convention, which may even be finalised by the end of 1993.Th

      The convention provides for an international commission mandated to enforce the operative provisions, whose terms will be very stringent. It will cover both surface and underground water, and another of its aims is to help reduce the pollution of the Black Sea.

      The application of the convention will principally involve action regarding both localised and disseminated water pollution levels, the compilation of a general water survey for each riparian country, and the introduction of a warning system to be triggered in the event of serious accidents.

      The above-mentioned international commission will be vested with significant responsibilities, inter alia to ensure harmonisation and co-operation in the enforcement of the projected measures, which will apply to thirteen riparian countries — an area of 800 000 km2.

      The environment programme for the Danube river basin devised by the Commission of the European Communities in conjunction with many other partners is one result of the first pan-European Ministerial Conference "An Environment for Europe" held at Dobris (Prague) in June 1991.

      The approval of regional environment programmes for the countries of central and eastern Europe is in fact part of the follow-up to the conference. This programme for the Danube is the outcome of an intersectoral meeting held in Sofia at the end of the same year, and it is being conducted by a task force set up for the purpose.

      Under the programme, top priority has been assigned to the detection and inventorying of pollution sources. The area surveyed extends from Baden-Württemberg to Ukraine and includes eleven riparian countries.

      As stated above, the initiative is being carried out under an extensive partnership arrangement, but above all thanks to co-operation between the European Union, UNDP and the World Bank. The funds, which amount to 45 million ecu for the period 1992-95, are derived chiefly from the PHARE programme of the European Union, the EBRD, the Governments of the Netherlands and Austria, the WWF and the Cousteau Foundation.

      The programme's interest lies in the fact that one of its goals is to establish an operational basis for integrated strategic management of the environment in the Danube basin, a high priority being placed on environmental issues.

      —Th       e Working Community of Danube Regions, set up in 1990, comprises Bavaria, four Austrian provinces, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, some Hungarian counties, Croatia, Slovenia and certain regions of Romania. Its purpose is to enhance interregional co-operation on both technical and political issues in the Danube area in order to promote better surroundings and living conditions for residents. Accordingly, the community has set up working parties and groups of experts to discuss matters relating to environment and spatial planning, economics and tourism, and transport and navigation. The 4th Conference of Heads of Government of the Working Community of Danube Regions took place in Bratislava on 14 October 1993. During this meeting, the need to adopt a suitable structure for integrated management of the Danube basin was proclaimed in a spirit akin to that which guided the proceedings of the Regensburg Conference, which was held on the same dates and received a message from the conference of Danube regions (see Appendix 1).2.

2.       Co-operation achievements, shortcomings and outlook

      It is clear from the foregoing that the Danube is a focus of attention in numerous regional, national, European and international circles, whether governmental or non-governmental, and this is to be unreservedly welcomed. The opening up of the east European countries has demonstrated the importance of the river for what is now a fully accessible region, and moreover offers favourable conditions for co-operation which will make integrated management and protection of the basin more readily attainable.

      The initiatives mentioned above are each of undeniable value, being concerned with problems of great individual significance. Unfortunately, it appears difficult to guarantee a comprehensive and integrated approach to all the problems of the Danube basin merely by juxtaposing the sectoral activities of the various parties. Moreover, as the initiatives now stand, the extent of possible overlap between the two conventions put in hand in 1991 is a fair question.

      The problems of the Danube basin (tributaries included) in terms of environment, protection and management of ecosystems and spatial planning — all elements of which must be taken into consideration — transport polices, economics and ecology, call for a comprehensive approach covering the entire region.

      It is therefore vital to conduct specific projects dealing with specific problems but geared to a coherent overall frame of reference and an integrated approach. Co-ordination and integrated procedure are advocated in the multilateral partnership scheme organised by the European Union, although no structure is proposed to meet this need.

Chapter III:       2nd Interparliamentary Conference of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly — Deliberations and Conclusions

      As mentioned in the introduction, the Assembly Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities has for many years kept a close watch on the question of the Danube basin and has always been convinced of the need to provide a legislative system and an administrative structure with the task of achieving and maintaining integrated protection and management of this major river with all due regard to the principles established for the furtherance of transfrontier co-operation in Europe.

      After the hearing in Budapest in July 1992, the committee concluded that the Second Interparliamentary Conference should be devoted to the Danube basin. The conference thus took place in Regensburg in the autumn of 1993 at the invitation of the German Bundestag and the Regensburg local authority.

      All the topics discussed in the first part of this report were presented and debated at considerable length. The speakers — decision-makers at every level of authority, NGO representatives and independent experts — each made contributions clearly demonstrating the urgent need to unite individual efforts in a common endeavour. A consensus emerged spontaneously, to the effect that detailed proposals in the matter should be put forward.

      At the close of proceedings, those present at the conference adopted a Final Declaration (see Appendix II) asking the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to draw up a European Danube basin charter and to lay the foundations for an international council of the Danube.

      The European Danube basin charter would stipulate principles for permanent general co-operation by Danube regions, to be developed in consultation with the representatives of the riparian countries (national parliamentarians and regional and local councillors). It would provide the starting-point, the political framework and the platform for the action of the International Council of the Danube.

      The council would bring together the representatives of the national and local governments of riparian countries and regions and would be responsible, in the policy framework defined by the charter, for co-ordinating all current initiatives on behalf of the Danube (the various present and future conventions, special-purpose projects, and activities by other bodies) and also for ensuring the integrated management of the Danube basin through mutually supportive schemes of consultative and co-operative action.

      An imperative for coherent action of this kind would be to avoid the restrictive approach to the Danube catchment area alone which is prescribed, for instance, by the convention of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on international water courses, and to include the catchment areas of the tributaries.

      Furthermore, mindful of the potential impact of action taken by elected bodies, the participants asked that the International Council avail itself of the support of an Interregional Parliamentary Council comprising representatives of the national parliaments and territorial authorities of the member states.

      To provide logistic, documentary and technical support, it was also asked that the formation of a Scientific Committee and a Secretariat be envisaged.

      Romania, whose territory embodies a very long stretch of the river and also the delta forming one of the ecologically richest regions, has already shown marked interest in the conference. The Romanian delegation, moreover, made an official offer to accommodate the council and its secretariat in Romania.


      The Rapporteur believes that he speaks for the committee and for all conference participants in asserting that this second pan-European interparliamentary meeting was a success because it met a genuine need.

      It was deemed necessary to survey all the potential and actual functions of the Danube and to adopt, as a clear imperative, an integrated approach which would draw upon the various initiatives, derive maximum benefit from their results through co-ordination, and enforce the instruments of a treaty and regulatory nature adopted in this respect.

      There is no question — and this should be heavily emphasised — of creating a further structure already existing in duplicate. The idea is to create an umbrella organisation, sustained by the resolve of the governments, parliaments and territorial authorities of the countries concerned, to take charge of the overall management of the basin. The principles of participation and subsidiarity should be fully applied in the future management of the Danube macro-region.

      The Council of Europe offers the right setting for this initiative, altogether compatible with the functions of an organisation which broke new ground in formulating the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter.



from the 4th Conference of Heads of Government

of the Working Community of the Danube Regions

to the 2nd Pan-European Interparliamentary Conference

on the Environment

      On behalf of the heads of government of the working community of the Danube regions, which is holding its fourth conference in Bratislava on 14 October 1993, and at their request, I would like to convey my greeting to your pan-European Parliamentary Conference on the Environment, which is holding its 2nd session in Regensburg from 14 to 16 October. I would also like to express my hope that the conference, which will be looking at the environmental situation and living conditions in the Danube basin, will be a successful one.

      The Danube, whose source is at the very heart of Europe, has always united the peoples, countries and states situated along its banks. It is a silent witness of inexhaustible energy, constantly shaping a territory characterised by infinitely rich cultures and natural beauties.

      We have been fortunate to see the removal of the artificial man-made frontiers which separated what otherwise would have been a cohesive whole and which prevented any natural development. This is why we welcome, in particular, the fact that the countries and peoples living in the Danube basin are making an attempt to come together to solve their common problems and work as one on the tasks awaiting them.

      The working community of the Danube riparian states is striving to be at the forefront of all the efforts made by the Danube regions to reach a joint solution to their problems. One such problem is the protection and harmonious development of the environment.

      The fact that the Danube basin is part of Greater Europe and that the source of the Danube is located in one of our member states, in relatively close proximity to the headquarters of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, makes us feel all the more concerned by the problems of Europe as a whole.

      The heads of government of the working community of the Danube regions are quite sure that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly will give this message a favourable reception.

      We firmly believe in close co-operation with the institutions of a united Europe.

      For the future of Europe we are prepared not only to confront problems but also to demonstrate the commitment of the peoples of the Danube basin. It is in this sense that the coincidence of dates of our two conferences should be interpreted. It augurs well since, by striving together, we shall give this river its traditional European dimension and solve present and future problems.

      (signed): Vladimir MECIAR

      Head of Government of the Slovak Republic and Chairman of the 4th Conference of Heads of Government of the Working Community of the Danube Regions


      Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

      Reference to committee: Doc, 6392 and Reference No. 1723 of 11 March 1991.

      Draft resolution adopted by the committee on 7 January 1994.

      Members of the committee: Mr Parisi (Chairman), Mr Ruffy, Lord Newall (Vice-Chairmen), MM. Adamowicz, Alemyr, Bachna, Bernardini, Gudmundur Bjarnason, Mrs Blunck, MM. Bondevik, Bonrepaux, Brennan (Alternate: Gregory), Briane, Büchel, Demiralp, Dimmer, Mrs Dromberg, MM. Eversdijk, Feldmann, Ferrarini, Mrs Graenitz, MM. Granstedt, Grau I Buldu, Hadjidemetriou, Hardy, Jung, Mrs Kaliska, MM. Konstantopoulos, Kukk, Lanner, Lotz, Mészáros, Monfils, Mozetic, Pinto, Redmond, Reis Leite (Alternate: Curto), Mrs Robert, Mr Rubner (Alternate: de Carolis), Mrs Sanchez de Miguel (Alternate: Mr Bolinaga), MM. Sarens, Semerdjiev, Mrs Severinsen, MM. Siemienowicz, Slomka, Spacek, Talay, Toshev, Tummers, Vassiliades, Vella, Zierer, N ... (Alternate: Motiu).

      N.B The names of those members who took part in the vote are printed in italics.

      Secretaries to the committee: Mrs Cagnolati-Staveris and Mr Sich