In 2013, the EC granted EUR 274 million for Struma Motorway Construction with the condition that the tunel/s bypassing Kresna gorge will be constructed as soon as possible: “ …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

In 2013, the European Commission granted EUR 274 million for Struma Motorway Construction with the condition that the tunel/s bypassing Kresna gorge will be constructed as soon as possible. The EC approved funding for the construction of Lots 1, 2 and 4 of the Struma motorway – the sections north and south of the gorge – and a technical preparation of Lot 3 (62 km) – the Kresna gorge section, while the actual construction of the tunnel was programmed for the financing period 2014 – 2020.

Oddly, the Bulgarian government spent 3 years and EUR 4 million-EU technical assistance grant aimed for design of tunnel through Kresna gorge for the “development” of the arguments against the tunnel. The EU funds were used for a geological study, which, based on questionable assumptions, recommends the “alternative” option passing through the gorge.

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 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) construction of the motorway route was financed with a EUR 41million 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 consultation were undertaken for that section. The EIB deny that there is a serious violation of the Bulgarian and EU EIA legislation.