The Merchant Marine Ministry is in the lead position in attracting foreign investments to Greece, since up through September 2007 there will be announcements for projects totaling -2.5 billion. The various projects’ funding will come from national resources, European Union funds and the funding protocol of -3 billion for projects of -6 billion agreed to with the European Investment Bank. This is the picture that Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis conveyed to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in a meeting this week. Kefaloyiannis reportedly informed Karamanlis that an extensive program of projects is under way, aimed at improving and modernizing port infrastructure across the country. Coastal shipping hub Kefaloyiannis also told Karamanlis that by September the ministry will present the plan for the construction of the so-called «coastal shipping horseshoe» in the port of Piraeus, a 250-million-euro project. The plan provides for the creation of a section of the port to exclusively serve coastal shipping with infrastructure, security and facilities similar to that of Athens International Airport. Furthermore, he reported to Karamanlis on ongoing major projects to improve the port infrastructures at Iraklion, Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Alexandroupolis, Thessaloniki and Patras. By September the first stage of the port development at Tymbaki, in Crete, is also set to begin. This will allow Tymbaki to operate as a transit center for containers from Asia to ports in Europe, North Africa and the Black Sea. The minister provided a snapshot of today’s coastal shipping market, noting that so far this summer 2.5 million passengers have traveled without problems on 10,000 trips. He also referred to the institutional framework of coastal shipping, stressing the significant steps taken toward full harmonization with European Union specifications. The draft law on the charter of rights for passengers concerning coastal shipping and hydroplanes is soon to be tabled in Parliament.