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Trakia motorway deal awaits feedback from European Commission

Date: 24.10.2007

The Bulgarian government will have to wait for the European Commission to also weigh in on the revised concession contract for the Trakia motorway, said Bulgarian regional development minister Asen Gagauzov.

Brussels will have to ascertain if the deal involves disallowed state aid.

Eurostat, the statistical offices of the European communities, recently approved the redrafted concession contract, seemingly removing all obstacles for the launch of the project.

There is no clear timeframe for the delivery of the EC decision. Gagauzov said he hoped it would not take longer than a month or two.

If the feedback is delayed further that would strain the financial parameters of the motorway project, the official said.

The Portuguese-led consortium tapped to build and operate the facility agreed during the renegotiations of the contract earlier this year to construction price of EUR 2.7 mln /km.

That parameter of the deal has been in place for more than two years while inflation and the price of construction materials have been on the up, Gagauzov noted. 'I suspect there might come a time when we won't e able to operate within these parameters any more.'

According to Gagauzov, Brussels will determine whether or not community law has been upheld and not whether it is a good deal or not. 'If Brussels remarks on any breaches on or part there will be recommendations how to rectify them. If that is possible, it will be done. If not, it would mean no deal is possible and we will have to take that into account.'

The concessionaire Magistrala Trakia, led by Portuguese builders MSF, Grupo Lena and Somague, will complete a 118 km section of the Trakia motorway from Stara Zagora to Karnobat, a 60 km section from Sofia to Kalotina and the 22 km northern arc of the Sofia ring road.

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