Bulgaria’s Cabinet has adopted policy changes to allow EU funding from Operational Program “Regional Development” 2007-2013 to be used for rescue archaeological excavations as part of road construction projects.
The Council of Ministers has approved amendments to the rules regulating the activities that can be funded with the EU money provided under the said program.
The policy change has been brought about by the project for the construction of the so called Northern Tangent of the Sofia Ring Road under which Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency will finance the rescue excavations of three archaeological sites in the northern suburbs of the city of Sofia.
The newly amended rules for the absorption of money from EU Operational Program “Regional Development” for the 2007-2013 programming period now allow for financing archaeological excavations and the conservation of the discovered archaeological objects.
The respective EU grant for the 16.4 km Northern Tangent of the Sofia Ring Road amounts to BGN 235 million (EUR 120 million).
In a press statement, the Bulgarian Cabinet emphasizes the importance of the Northern Tangent project for road transportation in Bulgaria as the new section of the Sofia Ring Road will connect several Bulgarian highways, respectively several Pan-European Transport Corridors.
On April 7, 2015, Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency announced that the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was the only bidder to carry out the rescue excavations along the route of the Northern Tangent of the Sofia Ring Road.
Bulgaria’s road agency has pledged about BGN 5 million (app. EUR 2.55 million) for rescue excavations preceding the construction of the respective sections of the Struma Highway, the Maritsa Highway, and the Southern Arc and Northern Tangent of the Sofia Ring Road. Most of this funding is slated for excavations of the proposed route of the Struma Highway.
In 2014, it provided a total of BGN 5.35 million (app. EUR 2.73 million) for rescue archaeological excavations that yielded some of Bulgaria’s most important 2014 discoveries such as the discovery of the Early Neolithic city near the southwestern town of Mursalevo, on the proposed route of the Struma Highway.