EU gives candidate countries over €1 billion for environment and transport

The European Commission has announced the donation of €1.1 billion for environmental and transport projects in 10 Central and Eastern European EU candidate countries aimed at modernising urban and municipal water supplies, wastewater systems, and road and railway construction and rehabilitation.

The money is part funding for 94 projects in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, from the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) programme, one of the three financial instruments that assist the candidate countries in their preparations for accession. The projects will cost a total of €2.3 billion, with the remainder of the funding coming from the beneficiary states and international financing institutions.

The developments include the €19.80 million North Bohemia water project in the Czech Republic, financing the modernisation of five wastewater treatment plants, the improvement of a municipal sewerage collection system, and the modernisation of a water treatment plant. The project is based in an area which is part of the Elbe river basin, which flows ultimately into the North Sea, and is therefore of significant benefit to the country’s neighbours.

Another scheme is in Estonia – the closure of the 26 hectare Pääsküla landfill, located in the area of Tallinn and Saku, and costing €11.06 million. The site was originally opened in 1972 as a temporary waste measure, but has since then become the main deposit of municipal and industrial waste from Tallinn and its suburbs. There are considerable environmental problems, firstly due to the landfill’s location close to a residential area, and secondly due to the discharge of untreated leachate to nearby streams and ultimately into the Gulf of Finland.

“Through the implementation of ISPA projects we aim to prepare the candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe for their future participation to structural funds,” said European Commissioner responsible for regional policy Michel Barnier. “Furthermore, the projects financed by ISPA intend to help future member states to implement EU environmental standards and strategic priorities in the field of trans-European networks. Finally, ISPA is a clear example of how EU structural interventions can provide concrete and tangible contributions in the benefit of its current and future citizens.”

Barnier added, “candidate countries need to continue efforts to strengthen their administrative capacity to ensure speedy and effective implementation of ISPA projects”.

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