Brussels, 16 December 2013
On the Road to Recovery: EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn approves Greece's major motorway projects
EU financial support worth € 2.97 billion to allow the building of four motorways in Greece has been approved today by the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn. These investments – among the most important infrastructure projects in Greece – will be central to the country's economic recovery, connecting its regions with fast and safe motorways. The Commission has also found that the financial support granted by Greece is in line with EU state aid rules.
The motorways have been identified as "priority projects" investments by the European Commission and the Greek authorities: key to creating jobs and to the development of the country and its regions. It is expected that more than 6 000 jobs will be created during the building of the motorways. The projects should be completed by the end of 2015, with around 1 700 people then employed in managing them.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, who signed the co-financing decisions said: "These projects and their abrupt interruption were visible casualties of the crisis in Greece. Their resumption and the fact that the European Commission and several European companies are again prepared to invest in them, is a sign of growing confidence in Greece's recovery. Following the positive vote in the Greek Parliament, I am pleased to approve these vital projects for the country which will do a great deal to stimulate development. This decision is the fruit of hard work and perseverance from many quarters: the Hellenic Republic and the motorway concessioners, the European Investment Bank. Last but not least, I would like to personally thank all the Commission departments that are involved in this endeavour for their coordinated effort."
Commissioner Hahn added, "The Trans European Network for Transport of which these motorways are a part (PATHE), is essential for connecting the continent and for the smooth functioning of Europe's single market. These projects will improve the competitiveness of the regions they pass through, making them more attractive to investors. But as well as creating the right conditions for growth and jobs, they also improve the quality of life for citizens. These motorways will be far safer than the current roads they replace"
The economic crisis caused serious problems in funding for four out of five motorway concessions. The sudden drop in traffic and the expected toll income as well as withdrawal of support from a part of the banking sector, effectively stopped the projects due to lack of funds.
The EU co-financing of up to € 2.97 billion for the 4 projects is part of a total investment cost of €4.6bn. On Friday, 13 December 2013, the Commission approved state aid for financing the construction of the four Greek motorways. The Commission found that the State funding is necessary and proportionate as it does not go beyond the financing gap that cannot be covered by market forces alone, while ensuring that construction works resume and that the concessionaires and banks contribute their part of the financing.
The concessioners are Greek constructors as well as European companies from several member states, and have recently signed the recast of the project. In addition to the EIB, around 40 Greek and international banks are financially involved.
The four investments come through the EU Regional Policy programme "Reinforcing Accessibility", funded through the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund in Greece.
The Ionian motorway concession relates to the construction of the 196 km long section Antirrio-Ioannina along with the works to upgrade existing sections of the PATHE motorway (the Patra-Athens-Thessaloniki which is part of the Trans European Transport Network). The motorway will pass through four Greek regions: Ipiros, Dytiki Ellada, Sterea Ellada and Attiki. The European Regional Development Fund will finance €723.6m. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be above 37%.
The completion of the Maliakos-Kleidi concession passing through the regions of Thessalia and Kentriki Makedonia, is about the construction of the Evangelismos – Skotina (24,71 km) stretch, along with works to upgrade existing sections (204,70 km) of the PATHE motorway. The Cohesion Fund will finance €699m. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 30%.
The completion of the Elefsina – Korinthos – Patra motorway concession refers to the construction of the Korinthos – Patra (120 km) section, including the upgrade of existing sections (81,5 km) of the PATHE motorway. The motorway will pass through the regions of Ditiki Ellada, Pelopponisos and Attiki. The European Regional Development Fund will finance €977m. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 38%.
The completion of the Central Greece motorway concession for the E-65 motorway, relates to the construction of the 78.5 km long section ‘Xyniada-Trikala’ and the installation of toll stations and a communication system on the Skarfeia – Raches stretch (57 km) of the PATHE motorway. The motorway runs through Thessalia and Sterea Ellada. The Cohesion Fund will finance €570m. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 30%.
Transport links receiving investment: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/hahn/index_de.cfm
The non-confidential versions of the state aid decisions will be made available under the case numbers SA.36878 (Olympia Odos), SA.36894, (Ionia Odos), SA.36893 (Central Motorway) and SA.36877 (Aegean Motorway) in the State Aid Register of the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.