It all began with the vision of a true Central European: thanks to the commitment of Austrian politician and diplomat Theodor von Hornbostel, the “Research Institute for Issues of the Danube Region” was founded in Salzburg in 1953. As co-founder and first chairman, Hornbostel recognized the need for scientific exploration of this region to “contribute to a better understanding of the intrinsic political, cultural and economic forces of the Danube region and their significance for a peaceful and united Europe.” However, there was still a long way to go before a united Europe would become reality: because peoples and countries in the Danube region were divided by the Iron Curtain following World War II, countries were rebuilt under very different political and economic conditions.

For more than thirty years the institute was the only Austrian organization that devoted itself entirely to research on the Danube region – both within and beyond the border. Starting in 1956, detailed research results and consequent discussions were published in the institute’s own scientific journal, “Der Donauraum”. In the same year, the institute was relocated to Vienna.

In 1995, Erhard Busek replaced Norbert Leser as chairman of the institute. With this change in management came a new focus on consolidation and cooperation that led to a renewed motivation to work. Under the new name “Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe”, activities were extended to include all of Central and Southeastern Europe as well as parts of the Black Sea region.

Today, IDM is a non-university research institution based on associations and consisting of individual and corporate members.

From April 2011 to December 2021, the IDM was a strategic cooperation partner of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna. The connection that has grown over a decade has not only made a significant contribution to the further development of the institute, but also continues to exist through a wide variety of formats and people.


Since January 1, 2022, there has been a cooperation agreement with the University for Continuing Education Krems – Danube University. The objective is the development and implementation of joint activities for the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) as well as the further development of scientific and technical competence at the IDM and the University for Continuing Education Krems in research and teaching within the framework of the overall university research priorities according to the development plan of the University for further education Krems.

As part of the new cooperation between the University for Continuing Education Krems and the IDM, joint projects such as events and the publication of scientific articles related to the neighboring Central and Southeastern European countries are being carried out. It also includes activities within the framework of the EUSDR. The IDM also oversees the secretariat for the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC).


In line with our slogan, the IDM will in future focus more on questions relating to the future of the European Union, with a particular focus on Central and South-Eastern Europe.