SOFIA, Bulgaria – The Bulgarian caretaker government has approved an intergovernmental agreement for opening up a new checkpoint with Romania at the Danube River bridge that links Vidin to Calafat in Romania, reports Dispatch News Desk (DND).
According to a press statement from the Bulgarian government, a new checkpoint will be erected to facilitate tourists visiting both countries. An Authority will be established by both the countries to run this check post. This agreement would provide the necessary legal basis for the effective management of the bridge and shorten the period of recouping the funds invested in building the bridge. The headquarters of the Authority will be in Vidin and will be registered under Bulgarian law, with an office to be opened in Calafat.
Danube Bridge 2 was completed last year, but required additional infrastructure work by Spanish contractor FCC. It was due to be opened on May 8, during a visit to Bulgaria by European Commissioner for regional development Johannes Hahn.
With the resignation of the Boiko Borissov cabinet earlier in February, Hahn’s visit has been postponed, and it is unclear when the bridge would officially start operations.
The idea to build a second bridge over the Danube between Romania and Bulgaria has been proposed for years, but ran into funding difficulties as the two countries dealt with the economic ramifications of transition to a market economy in the 1990s.
Construction became feasible when the EU agreed to provide funding. In the end, the bloc financed a third of the construction costs through its pre-accession aid instrument Ispa, with the final costs at 300 million euro.
Although the bridge was initially to be completed by the end of 2011, the European Commission agreed to extend the deadline by one year, allowing the two countries to use Ispa funding instead of having to foot part of the rising costs themselves.