Attempt to get Thessaloniki metro on track

Attempt to get Thessaloniki metro on track

Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis promised Tuesday that the government would present a solution before the end of the month to the impasse over the construction of the Thessaloniki metro.

The project has been held up due to legal wrangling over recent months but Spirtzis said he would hold talks with the consortium constructing the metro in the coming days. The minister made the comments after meeting EU Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu Tuesday. Spirtzis said that the pair would meet again in the next two weeks to discuss ways in which the project, which is receiving EU funding, can be completed.

Cretu noted Tuesday that the European Parliament approved plans to provide Greece with an extra 35 billion euros in funding as part of the Commission’s Jobs and Growth Plan for Greece.

“These measures are exceptional because the situation is exceptional; they will help successfully implement the 2007-2013 programs while kickstarting investments under the new 2014-2020 period,” she said. “It is a strong message of European solidarity and now it is up to our Greek partners to do their part and ensure a swift and lasting return to growth.”

The plan includes the early release of the remaining 5 percent of EU payments normally retained until the closure of the programs in 2017 and the complete removal of the need for national co-financing, meaning projects approved as part of the 2007-13 program would be exclusively funded by Brussels. This would translate into immediate additional liquidity of some 500 million euros and savings for the Greek budget of around 2 billion, according to the Commission.

The proposal also increases the rate of initial pre-financing for programs for the 2014-20 period in Greece by 7 percentage points, which can make an additional 1 billion euros available upfront.

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