EU could have given park funds

The project to turn the site of Athens’s old airport at Hellenikon into the largest metropolitan park in Europe could have been mostly financed by European Union funds, obviating the need for the government to sell off part of the land to finance the scheme, it was revealed yesterday. Dimitris Papadimoulis, a MEP for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), said that he had written to the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner asking about the project. In her written response, Hubner explained that «in principle» the EU could fund up to 85 percent of the construction of this type of park. Papadimoulis said that this leaves the government «exposed» in the eyes of Athenians because it had said that 100 hectares of the land would have to be sold for development to raise 500 million euros for the project in the southern suburb. However, sources at the Environment and Public Works Ministry said yesterday that this money would also be used to maintain the park.