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European Commission

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speech by President Barroso at the Opening Ceremony of the second metro diameter of Sofia Metro

Serdika Metro Station /Sofia

31 August 2012

Prime Minister Borissov,

Esteemed Ministers,

Mayor Fandakova,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you here today to inaugurate the new section of the Sofia metro.

The completion of the Sofia metro line is about much more than just getting from point A to point B. It demonstrates that Sofia is a vibrant and modern city, willing to invest in its future competitiveness, in its environment, and in its citizens.

The new metro line will help to modernise Sofia's transportation system, in line with its recent economic and demographic growth, while allowing the city to further fulfil its potential. At the same time, it will reduce pollution and improve the quality of life of thousands of commuters and citizens.

By connecting important historic sites, the new metro line also serves to promote Bulgaria's rich historic and cultural heritage. It serves as a good example of integrated and sustainable public transport, connecting all modes of transport in the city. The planned link to Sofia's International Airport, will allow for a faster connection to the rest of Europe and the world.

Moreover, the metro line is also a fine demonstration of what can be achieved, and what we should aspire to, through the European Union structural and cohesion funds.

Through these funds, the European Union has invested 50% [€476 million] of the total cost of this project. Working side-by-side with the Bulgarian authorities, we have together completed this project that serves to stimulate the economy, make traffic safer and faster, and allow for a more pleasant urban life. This is what we mean when we talk about green, smart and sustainable growth.

This is precisely the added value that should guide the future cohesion policy of the European Union.

Negotiations with Member States and the European Parliament on the European Union's future budget for 2014 to 2020 are now entering their final stage. The Commission has put a proposal on the table last year which is reasonable, balanced and ambitious.

The Commission's position has always been clear - at a time when national budgets are under pressure, we should more than ever make European Union budget a budget for European growth and investment. That is exactly the focus of our proposal. In this respect, the benefits of cohesion policy are clear to see through the transformation of Europe's regions, from north to south and east to west. The future potential of cohesion policy, within the wider EU budget, is extremely important, if we use it as the tool to implement our economic growth strategy - Europe 2020 - to make Europe a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by the end of this decade.

That is why we want to see a modernised cohesion policy, with its objectives and instruments fully in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, ensuring that every Euro spent brings added economic value for Europe and achieves more than a Euro spent at national level. A culture of entitlement must be replaced by a culture of results, and every project must achieve several targets, as the Sofia metro project exemplifies.

This is the message the Commission is taking to Member States. Cohesion policy is firmly anchored in the Treaty (article 174) as a fundamental objective of the European Union - to reduce divisions, to create opportunity and growth for all, to enhance equality between countries, regions and peoples. These are the values and qualities that underpin the very essence of the European social model. Now is not the time to abandon them, now is the time to reaffirm them and make them fit for the 21st-century globalised world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to close by saying that I am happy to see a metro station that has been named after the European Union! It shows that the metro is not only bringing Sofia's citizens closer to each other but also closer to the EU.

Congratulations to Sofia on your new metro link, and long may it enhance the lives of Sofia's inhabitants.

Thank you for your attention.


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