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Commissioner Hahn crosses the Danube river on the Vidin-Calafat Bridge

24/10/2012

Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn today marked a historic moment as he crossed a new bridge connecting the Bulgarian region of Vidin to neighbouring and Calafat. The bridge which is co-financed by the EU is only the second bridge along the countries' 630 km border, demonstrating how the EU's Danube Strategy is stepping up co-operation in the region.

Commissioner Hahn stated: "I am proud that the EU Cohesion Fund has contributed to the building of this remarkable bridge and I am delighted to see the progress made, since I last visited in July. It is a rich symbol of 'Europe in action' - connecting communities and cultures, and achieving what our Union set out to do. It is a strategic link in the Trans- European corridors connecting South Eastern and Central Europe. This bridge opens up a whole range of opportunities for entrepreneurs, for innovators, academics, and young professionals on both sides of the water".

He added: "Alongside the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding between Romania and Bulgaria on sustainable development of inland waterway transport, the bridge is proof of good co-operation between the two countries, which I hope will continue in the framework of the Danube Strategy".

Commissioner Hahn accompanied the Prime-Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov and Prime-Minister of Romania Victor Ponta.

The Commission has been monitoring the construction process of the bridge closely to overcome delays and ensure speedy implementation. The bridge is expected to be fully operational by the beginning of next year. It is constructed in an area where the Danube River is approximately 1,300 meters wide. Upon completion the length of the bridge will be about 1.8 km. It will have 4 road lanes, a single railway track and pedestrian and cycle tracks.

The bridge project, supported by around EUR 106 million of EU funds, forms an essential part of the EU's Transport Priority Projects. These are road and rail transport corridors that should link Greece overland through Bulgaria and Romania to Central-Europe. The project is also expected to reduce the travel time for passengers and freight between Western and Central Europe and South East Europe.

On 11 October Bulgaria and Romania signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up an "Inter-ministerial Committee for sustainable development of inland waterways transport, on the Romanian–Bulgarian common sector of the Danube".

Commissioner Hahn's statements: