EC Snubs Bulgaria, Steps Back over Danube Bridge Funding Alone - Report
The European Commission will extend the deadline of the financial memorandum for the construction only of a second bridge over the Danube River, according to reports.
More than EUR 300 M of the funding that Bulgaria expects for the construction of Lyulin highway and the railroad from Plovdiv to Svilengrad may be lost should the project fall behind shedule, Pari daily reported.
According to sources, cited by the daily, the European Commission will extend the deadline for the second bridge over the Danube river alone, but the extension wil be three times less than the time Bulgaria asked for.
The memorandum with Brussels, to be financed under the ISPA program, ensures free funding of EUR 70 M for the bridge's construction and guarantees head-to-tail financing of the project. It is scheduled to expire in 2010.
The building of the bridge is lagging behind schedule by 12-14 months.
Romania and Bulgaria signed the agreement for the project construction in March 2000 but it was late in getting off the ground because of insufficient funding.
The 2km Danube bridge, which is a key element of a European transport corridor connecting the German city of Dresden with Istanbul in Turkey, is designed to span over the river connecting Bulgaria's Vidin and Romania's Kalafat.
The project will cost a total of EUR 226 M and the Bulgarian government has pledged to chip in more than EUR 60.7 M. Besides, it is also financed by loans and grants from the European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency and the German Credit Institution for Reconstruction and Development.
At the moment, the only bridge on the 610km Danube section of the Bulgarian-Romanian border, links Russe in Bulgaria and Giurgiu in Romania by road and rail.
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