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Greek-Bulgarian ‘Sea2Sea’ railway project

On 6th September Bulgaria's centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in Kavala, northern Greece, and signed the agreement on a railway line that will connect three ports in Greece (Thessaloniki, Kavala, Alexandroupolis) with three Bulgarian ports (Burgas and Varna on the Black Sea, and Ruse on the Danube). The initiative is largely seen as an attempt to enhance political and economic cooperation in the Balkan region.
The project, named "Sea2Sea", can be particularly emphasized now, when Bulgaria is preparing for the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts on 1 January 2018. In co-operation with Greece, Bulgaria is expected to play an important role for a coordinated Balkan policy in the framework of the EU. The two countries also discussed the possibility to extend the railway project to Serbia and Romania as well.
The European Commission is in favour of all cross-border cooperation between member states and considers cross-border corridors essential for the European internal market and for creating jobs and growth. Thus, joint consultations have already been made at the level of the Directorates-General of the EC, which is ready to look into possible financial support.
However, it should be stressed that a part of the identified section was already on the Orient-East Mediterranean Core Network Corridor – which connects large parts of Central Europe with ports of the North, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas – and benefits already from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) support. Therefore, if conditions are met, other sections could benefit from grants under European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) or European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) loans.
The project can be of historic significance and enormous economic, commercial and geopolitical value. It will open new commercial routes and extend the trans-European transport network linking the Aegean Sea to the Danube and the Black Sea. The project was also expected to attract huge investor interest from the Middle East, China, Russia and other major markets.
The Sea2Sea project is considered to be a "big step" that allows the Balkan countries to be transformed into an area of economic prosperity. The region will start with smaller scale improvements e.g. infrastructure projects at the level of motorways and rail connections that are in progress.
More information about the project is available here:
https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/greece-and-bulgaria-sign-sea2sea-project-hoping-for-eu-funding/
https://www.euractiv.com/section/railways/news/commission-hails-greek-bulgarian-railway-project-as-positive-development/

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