EU pledges £104M to promote English Channel sea trade
Port facilities in the U.K. and France are in line for a substantial capital injection as the European Commission looks to support the crucial €130 billion (£100 billion) trade route between Dover and Calais.
Last week, the commission announced it would put forward €143 million (£104 million) in funding as part of the BRIDGE (Building the Resilience of International and Dependent Gateways in Europe) project.
The U.K.-oriented funding will go to the Dover Western Docks Revival project, which is improving the efficiency of the ferry terminal as well as developing a logistics hub within the port.
In France, the cash will be used to bring forward the Calais Port 2015 project - a scheme to build a new harbor, terminal and berths to accommodate bigger ferries and provide port capacity for future growth.
The latest award comes on top of an earlier EU grant of €14 million (£10.2 million) in 2014.
"This funding shows how hard we are working on a number of levels to bring investment into Dover and to address the challenges of a growing EU trade route on our community," Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott said in a release.
"It also reflects the importance to the UK, France and Europe of the Dover Western Docks Revival for both national and European economies.
"Both Dover and Calais will use this money to ensure traffic passes through our ports smoothly and efficiently both now and in the future."
Port of Boulogne-Calais president Jean-Marc Puissesseau said the announcement showed the EU was fully playing its role to ensure critical infrastructure was updated to face future challenges.
"Thanks to this support, projects such as Calais Port 2015 and the Dover Western Docks Revival will become a reality and will contribute directly towards the greater and more effective European integration we are looking for," Puissesseau said.
"This European funding is really good news for Calais, for the Region Nord Pas de Calais, and for France and Europe," added Regional Council, Nord Pas de Calais president Daniel Percheron.
"The Calais Port 2015 project will greatly contribute to strengthening the link between Dover and Calais and is necessary for the port to meet the growing traffic expected in coming years," Percheron said.
He said the Calais project would create 2,000 jobs during the construction period and hundreds more would result in the long term.