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Bulgaria Joins European Danube Strategy, Ruse Region Benefits

Date: 24.11.2009

Bulgaria has announced that the country has joined the European Danube Strategy, a project to be implemented between 2014 and 2020.

Ruse, the northern town situated on the banks of the River Danube, will become the Bulgarian coordinating centre, the Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev, has announced on Monday.

Under the Strategy, the communities, regions and countries along the Danube will develop jointly. The Danube area has been identified as a vital connector between Western and South-East Europe.

The Ruse region will benefit from the strategy with the extension of roads connecting the city with Byala and Shumen, in north east Bulgaria. This project wil be implemented with public-provate partnerships and an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Plevneliev stated that the long-awaited repair of the Friendship Bridge, opened in 1954, and still currently the only road crossing between Bulgaria and Romania, would not be possible in the next couple of years because of the disruption that would cause to international traffic.

He added that the renovation should be carried out only after Bulgaria joins the Schengen Area. A second crossing, at Vidin, is under construction, but is already one year behind schedule, largely due to legislative differences between Bulgaria and Romania. European funding has been extended to the end of 2011.

Plevneliev also referred to the present charges for crossing the bridge, saying that the efforts of entrepreneurs, local powers and ministries to force a reduction, would soon yield results.

Out of the total BGN 300 M allocated by the Regional Development Operational Program for viable transport strategies for Bulgaria’s 6 largest cities, Ruse would receive BGN 50 M, he announced.

The European Danube Strategy, set up in October 2008, recognises the need for an expansion of coordination between the 10 Danube states – of which six are EU member states. The Danube area has a population of 200 M inhabitants, of whom some 70 M live in regions directly situated on the banks of the river.

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