EU Funds Minister Calls for 5 Bulgaria-Romania Danube Bridges

Bulgaria in EU | July 2, 2012, Monday // 15:21|  views

EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev has emphasized that there should be at least 5 bridges connecting Bulgaria and Romania over the Danube river. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev has argued that there have to be at least five, rather than two or three, bridges connecting Bulgaria and Romania over the Danube river.

On Monday, Donchev and his Romanian counterpart Leonard Orban discussed bilateral cooperation in the sphere of EU funds absorption in the next 2013 – 2020 programming period.

Speaking after the meeting, Donchev assured that Bulgaria would be a first-class EU member state by 2020.

"In my opinion, it is a shame to speak about two bridges between two EU member states with such intensive trade relations. It is even a shame to speak about three bridges. There need to be at least five bridges. However, it is more important how Bulgaria stands in Europe and what it contributes to the EU. I will be very brief in my answer here – by 2020 Bulgaria will be a first-class European country, which is not my dream but my plan. Bulgaria will be a country that not only relies on various forms of cooperation and assistance from the other EU member states, but a country that also boasts significant contributions," Donchev stated.

Bulgaria's EU Funds Minister argued that Bulgaria had to have fast transport links to the north and to the south by 2020, adding that the large majority of buildings in the country had to be energy-efficient.

Leonard Orban, who is on a one-day visit to Bulgaria as part of a large delegation, spoke about a modernized Romania with high economic growth by 2020.

He further suggested that the barriers for Bulgarian and Romanian workers wishing to work in the EU would be lifted by 2020.

Romania's Minister of European Affairs also voiced hoped that the European Commission's mechanism for cooperation and verification for Bulgaria and Romania would be dropped by 2020.

Orban said that Bulgaria and Romania had to learn their lesson from the current programming period because the two countries had not been very well-prepared.

He said that the two countries were facing the challenge of proving that they were not at the bottom of the EU funds absorption ranking.

Orban further spoke in support of EU's cohesion policy, suggesting that many countries were underestimating its significance.

Romania's Minister of European Affairs reminded that the EU would allocate EUR 125 B for its cohesion policy in the next programming period.

He said that some countries had asked for a reduction of the cohesion policy allocations to EUR 100 B but advised strongly against sacrificing the policy.

He announced that Romania was experiencing serious problems in EU funds absorption due to conflict of interest in public procurement.

Orban insisted that all managing authorities had to be transferred to Romania's Ministry of European Affairs, as was the case in Poland, and recommended that Bulgaria should take the same steps.

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Tags: Danube Bridge, Danube River, EU Funds Minister, Tomislav Donchev, Romania, European Affairs minister, Leonard Orban, cohesion policy, Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, European Commission, public procurement, conflict of interest


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