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EU eyes 300 million euros to decommission Bulgarian nuclear plant
Brussels - The European Union should offer Bulgaria 300 million euros (436 million dollars) to help decommission a Soviet-era nuclear power plant in a bid to help wean it from its dependence on Russian energy sources, the head of the EU executive said Thursday.

"We want Bulgaria to be an integral part of the energy market in Europe," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after talks in Brussels with Bulgaria's new premier, Boyko Borisov.

To help that transition, the commission will shortly call on EU member states and the European Parliament (EP) to offer 300 million euros in funding over the next four years to help the Bulgarian government decommission closed reactors at Kosloduy, Barroso said.

The plant, Bulgaria's only current nuclear generator, originally had six reactors, but four were shut down before the country joined the EU in 2007 for safety reasons.

Barroso said that the offer of EU aid to decommission the reactors would be a "signal of solidarity" with Bulgaria, which saw its gas supplies shut off at the beginning of this year in the protracted gas row between Russia and Ukraine.

EU insiders say that the offer is intended to encourage Borisov's new government to push ahead with reforms to the energy market aimed at reducing the country's reliance on Russia.

Bulgaria currently relies on Russia for close on 90 per cent of its oil and gas supplies. The country's last government agreed a deal with Russia's main nuclear energy firm to build a replacement to Kosloduy in early 2008.

Borisov criticised that deal fiercely, saying that it could cost up to 10 billion euros.

He welcomed Barroso's offer, saying that his country would work hard to convince other EU members and the EP to approve it.(dpa)

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