The Transport Ministers Council of the European Union included the route Sofia-Skopie-Durres-Bari in the scope of the new European Transport Corridor "Western Balkans-Eastern Mediterranean". The Bulgarian side has made extremely active efforts in the last four months to restart the project, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport and Communications Hristo Alexiev said, upon participating in the meeting in Brussels today. He expressed his gratitude for the understanding shown by the Czech Presidency for the fulfillment of the Bulgarian request.
"This is a serious success for Bulgaria, because we lobbied hard for the inclusion of the route in the priority Transport Network. We have shown that we are making every effort to integrate the Western Balkans into the European Union, and transport connectivity is one of the most important elements of integration. With today's decision, projects along the route will have easy access to financing. I received many thanks from the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania for this battle that Bulgaria fought for the common good", Hristo Alexiev commented.
In this way, the European Transport Corridor "Western Balkans - Eastern Mediterranean" acquires a complete character and will be able to provide significant added value for the EU in the Western Balkans region, especially in the complex geopolitical situation we are in, he emphasized.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexiev highlighted Bulgaria's leading role in defending the request and securing international support. "In the spirit of unity and close cooperation, the four countries along the route of Corridor No. 8 - the two EU Member States Bulgaria and Italy, and our partners from the Western Balkans Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia, adopted on November 25 a Joint Declaration confirming our common commitment and concrete measures to build the infrastructure along the Corridor", Minister Alexiev said.
On November 3, 2022, a meeting was held in Athens between Hristo Alexiev and the Greek Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Kostas Karamanlis, at which an agreement was reached to intensify the activities for the implementation of the other priority corridor "Sea2Sea". The preparation of a joint project proposal for study activities for the construction of a "Sea2Sea" multimodal corridor under the Connecting Europe Facility, Transport Sector 2021-2027 was agreed upon, with the scope still to be specified with the Greek side.
The Bulgarian side has further proposals for subsequent steps in order to structure and ensure the viability of the project. Some of them are related to the restoration of rail freight traffic between Bulgaria and Greece through the border points: Svilengrad-Dikeia and Kulata-Promahon, as well as the possible start of talks with Romania to include the Port of Constanta.
The Transport Ministers Council approved a General Approach on the proposal for a revised regulation on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and talked about the possibilities for better implementation of their commitments for a coordinated EU response to the transport crisis, including the establishment of solidarity corridors.