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One of the newly built stations of the line 3 in Sofia, Source: Metropolitan Sofia

Sofia announces 195-million-euro loan to cover metro expansion

Sofia announces 195-million-euro loan to cover metro expansion

After months of arguing over EU recovery funds, the government agreed to co-finance the project through the national budget

Today, city authorities in Sofia announced that they will provide 195 million euros for the completion of the third metro line. The money will cover 53% of the project's cost and the city plans to secure the funds through a loan from the European Investment Bank.

The third and fourth stages of the metro's construction are set to be completed in 2026. The development will cover 12 kilometres and 9 stops, equipped with buffer parking spots and new trains. Construction is set to start in March of this year.

Cutting EU funds to the capital

The cost of the whole project is just under 400 million euros and originally the remaining funds were supposed to come from the EU’s post-Covid recovery package. However, last year was quite bumpy for the Bulgarian executive branch, as the country went through 3 successive elections because national representatives were unable to form a government.

The first draft of the recovery plan submitted to the EU Commission was rejected. Now, as Bulgaria has had a new government since December, a new draft of the plan is set to reach EU authorities in the near future.

Most importantly for city authorities, though, is the fact that in the latest iteration of the plan, the funds for the third line of the metro were cut in half. Mayor Yordanka Fandakova repeatedly pleaded for support for the subway system in Parliament to no avail.

In June, then Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov argued that the cut was necessary to prevent a concentration of EU funds in the capital. Mayor Fandakova then said that the cut seemed unreasonable, as the city was set to receive around 0.5% of the total 6.5 billion relegated to Bulgaria by the recovery fund.

She explained that this was a small portion of funds, especially considering that the capital city provides 40% of the country’s tax revenue and is home to about a quarter of the Bulgarian population.

According to a recent statement by the city, Mayor Fandakova has met with current Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Deputy Prime Minister Asen Vasilev to petition the government for the cut funds. During the meeting, however, Petkov and Vasilev said that they will cover the difference through the national budget instead.

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