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ERC Securing Europe, Fighting its enemies, 1815-1914

Research

The Danube commission and its contribution towards the establishment of a European security culture

By dr. Constatin Ardeleanu –

cropped-1280px-C._E._Hartley_-_Sulina_mouths_of_the_Danube.jpgThe 1856 Paris Treaty internationalized the Lower Danube and by a veritable revolution in international conventional law allowed non-riparian countries to regulate and technically improve the navigation of a river where riparian states would not or could not do it. The institution entrusted to enforce the free navigation principle was the European Commission of the Danube, an organization that evolved from a short termed technical commission into a complex regulatory and administrative body.

During the nineteenth century it maintained itself by drafting useful shipping regulations and by carrying out impressive technical works, but its resilience is also related to its acquiring its own feasible budget and complete independence in relation to the territorial power (its supranational status was confirmed by the 1878 Berlin Treaty, which allowed it to have its own flag and to act in complete independence of Romania’s territorial authority).

This sub-project aims to analyse how this commission contributed towards establishing mutually agreed rules and regulations, based on a set of European values and principles, not only for the sake of riparian countries, but to the benefit of the international community as a whole. Settled by statesmen and diplomats at the major peace conferences of the nineteenth century, this institution was soon threatened by the divergent political and economic ambitions of national riparian states, but their existence and practicality were secured by professional agents (jurists, hydrographers, engineers, etc.) who understood the common advantages of opening and developing new ways of European and international transportation and communication.