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EU aid limits hit infrastructure projects

INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS throughout the Czech Republic are to be shelved as no extra European Union (EU) cash is available to tackle the legacy of the floods.

While Germany and Austria are eligible for full funding in most areas, the Czech Republic, which is due to join the EU in 15 months, will receive no extra aid, the EC has confirmed.

Head of roads department at Czech ministry of transport and communications, Frantisek Baroch said, 'This financial stranglehold threatens our extensive infrastructure development plans, including 5,000km of new express highway by 2010.'

EU accession funding worth US$185M was allocated to the Czech Republic in 2000 to help it meet membership criteria. The remaining US$57M will now be directed towards repairing the flood damage, Prodi confirmed.

The government is also hoping to raise finance from the European Investment Bank.

UP TO 30% of Prague's flooded buildings may have to be demolished because they have been critically weakened, the Czech government has warned. The picture was repeated throughout Bohemia. Flood waters, reached first floor levels in several parts of the capital, and rose much higher in towns and villages, weakening foundations and lower storey walls. In Prague, the River Vltava peaked at 6m above its average level, while close to the German border, the River Elbe was 12.5m above its average height.

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