On October 19-20, XI Annual Forum of EU Strategy for the Danube Region was held under Ukrainian Presidency.
2 productive working days, more than 50 speakers, 10 sessions, 200 offline participants in Košice (Slovakia) and more than 1,500 online - this was the final event of the year of Ukrainian Presidency.
The Forum was held under the slogan "Sustainable and Secure Danube region", and was aimed at strengthening the cooperation of all 14 countries participating in the Strategy in countering the growing challenges and threats caused by the military aggression of the russian federation, the energy crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the Forum, the participants discussed:
new challenges and opportunities for the Danube region
energy security and sustainable economy
improvement of transport infrastructure
involving young people in the decision-making process
adaptation of labor markets to modern times
Among the participants were Olga Stefanishyna (Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine), Ihor Korkhovy (Deputy Minister of Development of Communities and Territories of Ukraine), European Commissioners, representatives of the Ukrainian Government, local administrations, mass media, etc.
The Annual Forum was opened by the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of UkraineOlga Stefanishyna.
"Last year, Ukraine has taken the Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. For us, as the first non-EU country, the presidency in this initiative is an important and responsible step that gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our unquestionable support for European values," the Deputy Prime Minister noted. During the speech, she also emphasized the importance of complex decisions adopted by the EU since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, which made it possible to support the viability of the Ukrainian economy. It is about the introduction of "ways of solidarity" to support the export of agricultural products, the conclusion of the Agreement agreement on road freight transport (so-called transport visa-free), as well as the abolition of customs duties on all Ukrainian imports.
According to Olga Stefanishyna, after acquiring the candidate status, Ukraine is even more interested in deepening cooperation with the participating countries of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
National Coordinator of Ukraine in the EUSDR and Deputy Minister of Development of Communities and Territories of UkraineIhor Korkhovyithanked the partners, in particular the current TRIO (Slovakia-Ukraine-Slovenia), for the help they provided for the organization of the Forum. "Thank you for the constant support of each of you and your countries, which help Ukraine in the struggle for common European values. Ukraine's victory in this war will be an indisputable victory for Europe and the entire democratic world," he emphasized.
During the Forum, the topics of energy security and sustainable economy were discussed.
Deputy Minister of Energy of Ukraine for EU integrationYaroslav Demchenkovemphasized that the Ukrainian energy system is suffering significant damage as a result of massive Russian shelling that has been ongoing since October 10. At the same time, Europe demonstrates unity in opposing Russia's energy aggression. The EU and other countries have introduced a number of energy sanctions against Russia: banning the import of Russian coal, refusing Russian oil, implementing stabilization measures for gas supplies, planning joint gas purchases, and building new LNG terminals to diversify supplies. The deputy minister noted that the solidarity of European countries has also become decisive for helping the Ukrainian energy sector.
One of the key topics of this year's Forum was labour markets. The development of human capital and labor markets became one of the thematic priorities of Ukraine during the Presidency of the Strategy. Within the panel discussion speakers talked about current events in the fields of education, training and employment in the Danube region.
In particular,Shumik Iryna, Director General of the Directorate of Vocational Education (Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine) noted that the development of human capital has recently become the number 1 issue on the agenda of both Ukraine and European countries in general. The speaker focused her attention on challenges, including skills mismatch, migration, unemployment, economic crisis, and also outlined possible ways to effectively overcome them (such as digitalization, common standards for qualification assessment, workplace training, labor market needs research, and others).
Maryna Popatenko, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, shared the current situation in Ukraine regarding youth issues. The speaker also talked about the implementation of new training programs for young people in Ukraine, in particular the projectВідНОВА:UA.
Participants also discussed new challenges and opportunities for the Danube region.
During his speech, the head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration,Maksym Marchenko, outlined the possibilities and prospects for the further development of the transport and logistics infrastructure of the lower Danube. In his opinion, this direction has become key to ensuring the humanitarian and social needs of the residents of Southern Ukraine.
"We are considering three main projects for the restoration and expansion of the infrastructure of Ukraine, as a component of the transport system of the Danube region, related to the restoration of the existing bridge across the Dniester estuary, the construction of a new road and railway track according to the European standard" - noted Maksym Marchenko.
Watch recording of the event via these links:
Session“New challenges and opportunities of the Danube region”,where participants discussed ways to counter common threats including Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and rapid climate change, as well as the issues of migration, transportation, energy, the digital transition, and food security.