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Nov 11, 2009 11:45 EEST
SOFIA (Bulgaria), November 11 (SeeNews) – European Union financing is crucial for overhauling poor rail, road and water transport infrastructure in Southeastern Europe, where corruption still deters business development, an official from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) said.
“I think one of the crucial questions is to get the European funds, of course, to get the support from the European Union and then to start with those projects, which are very, very decisive for the whole regional transportation system,” Tobias Baumann told SeeNews on the sidelines of the ABC South-East European Conference on Infrastructure in Focus of Internationalisation – New Perspectives for Interregional Cooperation between small and medium enterprises in Sofia on Tuesday.
Baumann is director of the DIHK department for Russia, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Turkey and Central Asia.
Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, plan to pour billions of euro into upgrading their infrastructure by 2015 to sustain fast economic development. The two countries stand to receive over 30 billion euro ($45 billion) from the bloc's cohesion and structural funds until 2013.
“The whole transportation infrastructure is strategic. The key points are the corridors, these are the main transportation corridors, which are decisive for the development of the region,” Baumann said.
Four European Union-defined transport corridors cross Southeastern Europe from east to west and from north to south. They are numbered Corridors IV, VII, VIII, IX, and X.
“Some projects have started and some kilometers have been built but when you take into consideration the number for example of highway kilometers in Bulgaria in comparison with central European standards, there’s a lot to do, a lot of potential,“ said Baumann.
He added that German companies are interested in investing in infrastructure projects in the region, especially as subcontractors. However, he affirmed that graft continues to be the main challenge for the companies that want to do business in the region.
“The main difficulty is, of course, the corruption problem, the informal strategies and ways to manage things. German businesses are very much used to straight rules and practices and this is of course a challenge. But the people in Bulgaria know how to deal with it. Overall, I have to say it’s still a barrier,” he added.
($ = 0.6677 euro)
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