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Brussels, 25 August 2004

Commission Statement on Opening of Bystroye Canal in Ukraine

The European Commission deeply regrets the reported opening to navigation of the initial part of the Bystroye canal between the River Danube and the Black Sea. The canal route goes through a specially protected UNESCO World Heritage area in the Danube Delta which is also subject to the international Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands.

Commission President Romano Prodi and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten had already expressed their serious concerns during the recent EU-Ukraine Summit of 8 July. These concerns included the lack of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment for the construction project, and the Commission had asked Ukraine to halt the works pending a full assessment. The concerns were also conveyed twice in writing by Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström to the Ukrainian authorities and in the margins of the recent Danube Cooperation Process meeting of Foreign Ministers in Bucharest.

The Commission reiterates its position and would welcome receiving reassurances from the Ukrainian Government confirming its intention not to proceed further with this project pending preparation of a proper Environmental Impact Assessment to international standards, including the appropriate public consultation and an evaluation of the transboundary impact.

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