Brussels, 14 June 2013
Commissioner Hahn hails opening of ‘New Europe Bridge’ as a potent symbol of European Cooperation
The EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will today mark an historic moment between Bulgaria and Romania, and the neighbouring regions of Vidin and Calafat, when he attends the inaugural opening of a bridge linking the two countries. Commissioner Hahn will be accompanied by President Plevneliev and Prime Minister, Oresharski of Bulgaria, as well as Romanian Prime Minister Ponta. The recently named ‘New Europe Bridge’ has received €106 million in EU investment and is only the second bridge along the countries' 630 km border. It is of vital strategic importance for the EU: a key link in a route that could stretch from Northern Europe, the Baltics, through Central Europe, Romania and Bulgaria, and eventually, to Greece.
Construction began on the Bridge project in 2007, but the plan was already under discussion nearly 15 years before. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region, with its unique cooperation method, combined with the intervention of Commissioner Hahn, pushed the project to completion.
Commenting on the opening, the Commissioner said: "This bridge is a powerful symbol of EU Regional Policy connecting communities and creating vital business links. Today the New Europe Bridge is not just opening for traffic, but it is ushering in a whole range of opportunities for business and research on both sides of the water, and beyond."
He added: "I am confident that the collaboration between Romania and Bulgaria - which we have helped foster through the Danube Strategy and which has made this project possible, will create the incentive for more connections, and will benefit both countries hugely."
The New Europe Bridge, formally known as the Calafat-Vidin Bridge, forms an essential part of the EU's priority road and rail transport corridors, and is expected to radically reduce the travel time for passengers and freight between South East Europe, Turkey and Central Europe. The bridge will reach its full potential when completely connected with upgraded rail and road networks on both sides. Romania and Bulgaria have already begun establishing these vital links.
The Commission monitored the construction process of the bridge closely to help ensure a speedy implementation. The total costs of the project were €282 million - covered by a combination of EU Funds (worth €106m), national financing and private investment in the form of grants and loans. The bridge is constructed in an area where the Danube River is approximately 1,300 meters wide. The bridge is about 1.8 km in length and it has 4 road lanes, a single railway track and pedestrian and cycle paths.