In Sofia (Bulgaria) in September 1991, an environmental programme for the Danube river basin was conceived, with the goal of improving the basin’ s environmental management. The Danube is 2857km long and its basin covers 817000km2 in 17 countries in the heart of central Europe. By 1995, the programme’s task force had produced its strategic action plan for the Danube river basin 1995-2005 (EPDRB task force 1995). The document’s third chapter, “Financing plan implementation”, reviews both the resources needed for the programme and likely sources of funds. In respect of loans from international financial institutions, emphasis is placed on the capacity of the borrower to repay the loan, and the Task Force writes:
Maximising the involvement of the private sector takes the burden off central government and effectively implements the polluter pays principle. This approach, working closely with the enterprise or company to develop the project from the bottom up, is currently being successfully developed in Slovenia, Hungary and Romania by EBRD.