Slovene port of Koper gets on the fast track at Brussels

One issue agreed at the EU summit was a 62 billion euro investment plan for transport and research projects - a lot of them in central Europe. Projects include rail routes between Ljubljana, Budapest and Kiev, the A1 motorway between the Polish city of Gdansk and Vienna - and the construction of a second railway line to the port of Koper in Slovenia.

Maybe it seems strange that Slovene politicians, including Prime Minister Anton Rop, were lobbying for the 10 km long railway track between Divaca and Koper to be included into the construction programme, which should be completed in 2007.

However this track is very important for the further development and growth of the Slovene port of Koper, which is the leading port in the northern Adriatic. Slovenia's Minister of European Affairs Janez Potocnik has done a lot to achieve that the construction of the track has become a subject of great importance and priority:

"I think we are now placed in the majority of the priorities, which are inside the EU and it is important that we are seen as an important crossroad also in an enlarged EU and that was clearly acknowledged by the decisions done recently."

The future development of Luka Koper is at stake without a modern road and railway system. Slovenia's economy depends largely on the port of Koper and the port is also an important business partner for companies in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without the track Divaca - Koper the port of Koper is not as accessible as other ports and consequently it would lose some of its customers to the ports of Rijeka and ports in northern Italy. Slovene politicians seem quite satisfied and convinced that the track soon will be constructed with the help of Brussels. The director of the port of Koper Bruno Korelič however is more cautious in his statement:

"Considering the facts stated, one could only say that no concrete solution has been reached on investing in the second track. Coastal routes are now subject to theoretical discussions. I would like things to move on as soon as possible and I believe they will. In any case the start of the construction will depend largely on Slovene budgets and as far as I know, the budget for 2005 comprises the means to commence construction works for the second railway track."

Despite all discussions on financial help from Brussels, it is mainly Slovenia's responsibility to built the railway track, because in any case the EU will contribute only 20 % of the money needed for the construction.