Ukrainian-Romanian relations knew a lot of tense moments. They most dangerous moments were around the Danube delta. Since 2002 the Romanian government has started protection program and topographic and hydrographic research. Due to the increasing depth of the Sulinsky and Georgievsky branches of the Danube, began ecological problems in the Kiliya Canal and in the whole Ukrainian part of the Danube delta.
In 2009, Ukraine, as a party of Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo, 1991), notified the implementation Espoo committee about the negative environmental impact across boundaries. But the economical factor was in the basis of this conflict. The economic issue is the reason of the construction work in both channels by the Romanian side. The carrying capacity depends on strengthening and increasing of the Sulinsky and Georgievsky branches.
Also, the conflict around the island Zmiinyi does not require further description.
However, despite the all contradictions, cooperation between the two countries can have a partnership and mutually beneficial nature.
In early 2016, the Romanian Ministry of Science and Innovation started the project “Preparatory phase for the Pan-European infrastructure DANUBIUS - RI International Center for Advanced Studies”. The DANUBIUS-PP Consortium comprises 30 partners from 16 countries, including Odessa State Ecological University and in the consultative body Ukraine was represented by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The HORIZON 2020 Project that supported the development of the pan-European entity – named DANUBIUS-PP (Preparatory Phase) was accepted and ran from 2016 until November 2019.
Such consortium is created according to the EU Regulations № 723/2009 of 25.07.2009 and № 1261/2013 of 02.12.2013.
According to the Association Agreement between Ukraine, on the one hand, and The European Union, the European Atomic Energy Community and their member states, on the other hand, as well as Article 66 of the Law of Ukraine "On scientific and scientific-technical activities" integration into the European research area is a strategic priority of our state.
Ukraine's accession to the DANUBIUS ERIC consortium is important not only in terms of ERA integration, but also has important geopolitical significance in the context of participation in the Danube delta study.
DANUBIUS-RI will be a pan-European distributed research infrastructure supporting interdisciplinary research on large River Sea Systems.
DANUBIUS-RI will fill the gap of fragmented research on European research on RS systems, drawing on existing research excellence across Europe, enhancing the impact of European research while maximising the return on investment. It will provide access to a range of European RS systems, facilities and expertise; a ‘one-stop shop’ for knowledge exchange in managing river-sea systems; access to harmonised data; and a platform for interdisciplinary research, inspiration, education and training.
The research infrastructure will comprise a Hub, a Data Centre, a Technology Transfer Office, an eLearning Office, Nodes and Supersites across Europe.
The Hub will provide leadership, coordination, and key scientific, educational and analytical capabilities.
Nodes will be centres of expertise providing facilities and services, data storage and provision, experimental and in situ measurements facilities, state-of-the-art analytical capabilities and implementation of standardised procedures and quality control.
Supersites will be designated natural sites that provide the focus for observation, research and modelling at locations of high scientific importance and utilizing a range of opportunities to study RS systems from river source to coastal sea.
A fundamentally new approach to research is needed to advance the goal of better-informed and holistically engaged environmental management of River-Sea Systems, particularly at the freshwater-marine interface. This requires world-leading interdisciplinary research in the freshwater and marine sciences that has immediate societal relevance and impact. The research must span traditional disciplinary and geographic boundaries and be implemented in a consistent and quality assured framework.
Also on island Zmiinyi which was the reason of disputes between Romania and Ukraine was established a Regional Interdepartmental Center for Integrated Monitoring and Environmental Research of Odessa Mechnikov National University. The research are focused on: environmental protection, integrated environmental monitoring, island research, marine ecosystems, expeditionary research of lakes, rivers and marine environment that is quite relevant to the goals and objectives of DANUBIUS-RI.
Of course, membership in this European consortium research infrastructures, requires a solution from Ukraine certain problems at two levels: legislative and financial. As domestic legislation differs from EU legislation, and the Charter of the consortium is, according to the Law of Ukraine «About international treaties of Ukraine” international treaty Ukraine needs to ratify the Statute. Also, the Ukraine should provide funds for membership fees.
During the negotiation procedures of the preparatory phase of creation the consortium discussed the method of calculating membership fees. The representatives figured out 3 approaches:
1. Indicator proposed by the Italian government representatives based on consortium membership impute;
2. Indicator developed by working groups and based on point system. Each member of the consortium receives: 1 quality point for membership in consortia; 1 additional point for each infrastructure component (except the country in which the headquarters of the consortium is located).
3. The indicator proposed by the working group and based on the principle according to which each country pays membership fees according to the UN scale.
It was decided that in the case of DANUBIUS-RI the first approach will be used and in this case Ukraine will have to pay about 18 thousand euros per year.
This price is quite insignificant for the opportunity to explore the Danube together to improve the ecological situation of the region, development opportunities of blue economy, as well as opportunities to attract Ukrainian scientists to advanced European research.
C. Bradley, M. J. Bowes, J. Brils, J. Friedrich, J. Gault, S. Groom, T. Hein, P. Heininger, P. Michalopoulos, N. Panin, M. Schultz, A. Stanica, I. Andrei, A. Tyler & G. Umgiesser. 2018. Advancing integrated research on European river–sea systems: the DANUBIUS-RI project, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 34:6, 888-899, DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2017.1399107