In December 2011 the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications submitted the application for Struma Motorway, Lots 1, 2 and 4 to the European Commission for review and approval. The total cost is 342,549,725 Euro from which EC contribution is 80% or 274,039,780 Euro (grant). Because project preparations for Lot 3 (includes Kresna) were delayed it was omitted from the application at that time.

This was duly noted during the initial appraisal by the European Commission.

“ …there needs to be absolute assurance that lot 3 of the Struma Motorway will be realised by means of one or more tunnels bypassing the Kresna gorge. The tunnel option is a prerequisite for financing of lot 2 and lot 4, yet the lack of progress on the technical preparation of the construction of the tunnel(s) does not provide sufficient confidence that this option might not be abandoned at some point in the future.”

European Commission First interruption letter Ref. Ares(2012)226301 – 28/02/2012

Believing Bulgarian authorities in 2013, EC granted EUR 274 million for the construction of Lots 1, 2 and 4 of the Struma motorway – the sections north and south of the gorge – and for a technical preparation of Lot 3 (62 km) that includes the Kresna gorge. The actual construction of the tunnel was postponed for the financing period 2014 – 2020.

Here is a list of the EU funds provided for the construction of Struma motorway so far:

  • The EU PHARE – Cross Border Co-operation Programme Bulgaria – Greece provide 3,342,450 Euro for the project E-79 Detailed Design Studies for Motorway Sofia-Kulata (Struma motorway) with (financial memoranda ’98 and ’99). The Italian company SPEA Ingegneria Europea was contracted in April 2000 for the design, feasibility study and planning.
  • Operational Program (OP) Transport 2007-2013 funded Major project ‘Construction of Struma Motorway lots 1,2 and 4, and preparation of lot 3’ with EUR 274 million (out of EUR 324 million total investments)
  • EUR 4 million was the EU technical assistance grant provided for the preparation of section 3 of the motorway through Kresna gorge and construction should have started 2015 with funds allocated in new EU budget period.
  • More than EUR 500 million (out EUR 673 million total investments) are expected to be financed by the OP Transport 2014-2020

Related funding

  • The first section of Sofia-Kulata Motorway (called Ljulin Motorway, 19 km between Sofia and Daskalovo) was financed by the EU pre-accession program ISPA (Instrument for Structural Policy for Pre-accession) in November 2002 with EUR 114 million.
  • The section right after Ljulin Motorway, currently called Struma Motorway Lot 0 ( Daskalovo road junction – Dupnica) was financed with a EUR 41 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the misleading title of the project “Rehabilitation, strengthening and improvement of road Daskalovo road junction – Dupnica”. No proper EIA report and no public consultations were undertaken for that section. The EIB denied that there is a serious violation of the Bulgarian and EU EIA legislation.