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Geography

The location of the CENTROPE region, at the intersection of four countries, is unique in Europe. CENTROPE exemplifies the diversity of its constituent regions. The two EU capital cities of Bratislava and Vienna, whose agglomerations are separated by a mere 50 kilometres, the cities of Brno and Győr, as regionally significant urban centres, as well as numerous other eminent and attractive cities, are the powerhouses of an economically and culturally expanding European region. Across more than 50,000 square kilometres, along the rivers Danube (Donau), Morava (March), Vah (Waag), and Rába (Raab), strong regions join in which – together even more than individually – stand for innovation, creativity, growth, openness, and diversity.

For many years, the people of the region have intermingled. They make daytrips or work in the neighbouring countries. As a "figurehead" for regional cooperation, Centrope mirrors the commonality which already has become part of everyday life and a matter of normalcy for its inhabitants.

From an economic point of view, Centrope is one of the EU enlargement's big winners. It functions as a bridgehead to the Central European growth markets, and to Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in general. Its skilled workforce coupled with a developed – constantly improving – infrastructure makes it rife with business and investment opportunities for both multinational and small and medium-sized enterprises. Moreover, Centrope exhibits an extraordinary density of educational and research institutions whose manifold achievements and offerings further strengthen chances for cooperation and mobility.

With a multi-faceted cultural life, Centrope serves as a venue for a variety of globally renowned events and festivals. Numerous museums and breathtaking monuments bear witness to one of Europe's richest cultural heritages and reflect the common history of the region.

The floodplains and backwaters along the Danube, Morava/March and Dyje/Thaya rivers are the "green lung" of the region; the foothills of the Alps and the Carpathians; as well as Lake Neusiedl, the westernmost steppe lake of Europe, are prominant pieces of the mosaic of Centrope's often unspoilt natural landscapes. It is this juxtaposition of urban centres with attractive recreational areas which supports the high quality of life in the Centrope region.

Hence, in almost every sense, Centrope boasts the conditions that can help it evolve into one of Europe's most dynamic and prosperous regions.

Political Background

The expansion of the EU significantly improves opportunities for enhanced integration and collaboration. The four neighbouring countries of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria comprise a region with six million inhabitants that is diverse both culturally and economically. Intensive cooperation can help make the region unique, attractive and strong – capable of meeting the challenges posed by competition among European regions.

Obviously, a central goal for the region should be to cooperate in establishing a prosperous high quality European Region where economic, social and political resources as well as the diversity of languages and culture contribute to dynamic yet sustainable development.

Hence, in September 2003, at a political conference at the Kittsee Palace, provincial governors and mayors of the border quadrangle agreed to establish the Central European Centrope business Region – CENTROPE. Within the framework of the Interreg IIIA project "Building a European Region", the period until the beginning of 2006 served to create the necessary groundwork – cooperative structure and services – to enable the establishment of the CENTROPE Central European Region.