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In the end of October, two months earlier than planned, Danube Bridge 2 started working, linking the Bulgarian town of Vidin with the Romanian Calafat. First to try the new bridge were Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, and his Romanian counterpart Victor-Viorel Ponta. “Completion of this bridge sends a strong signal from young EU Member States towards Europe", the Commissioner said. Locals hope that the new bridge will help economy in the region. The town of Vidin is one of the poorest in Bulgaria with unemployment reaching up to 22%. Most of the young people leave the city as students. “I hope that the new bridge will bring positive changes to the region. I hope more jobs would be opened,” an unemployed young man says. “It would be good for the city if more visitors come here. The road is not going through the city but I hope that more tourists will visit it,” adds a young woman. The hope is the newly built bridge, some 8 kilometers north from the town. Rosen Raikov is one of the construction workers on it. He has been working abroad for a long time but returned to his native city of Vidin. However, his views about the future of the city are not very optimistic.

“I don’t think that the bridge will make such a difference because infrastructure in the city is not good at all. I don’t see any progress. This will be a transit zone and the bridge will not help Vidin. Old factories are now long gone and there is absolutely no industry here”, Raikov points out. With the fall of the socialist regime more than 20 years ago the economy of Bulgaria collapsed and the city of Vidin was one of those most severely affected by the changes. The idea for a second bridge above the Danube is not new but years passed before financing was found and the location was defined. Many experts say that the bridge will actually give a chance to the region for economic revival. “There will be more opportunities, for sure,” Georgi Ganev from the Center for Liberal Strategies says. “Improved infrastructure always attracts foreign investments. People must use these new opportunities. Local authorities must create conditions that are to attract more guests to the city.”

Vidin Mayor Gergo Gergov also hopes for more investments. He says the bridge is a gate to Europe and together with his counterpart from Calafat they are discussing a number of joint projects, which are to bring positive changes to one of the poorest regions in Europe. “The Danubean Strategy of the two cities envisages building parks and yacht ports on both banks near the bridge. This way we are to have an attractive walking area. We are also working on a number of programmes in the sphere of tourism. Our major goal is to link the infrastructure in both cities,” the Mayor says.

English version: Alexander Markov

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