The approval of the Port Authority's development plan will unfreeze 240 million euros in EU funding for the project to refurbish the port, which has yearly turnover of 680 million euros and employs 5,000 people.
The budget allocates 22 million euros to switching the port to alternative energy, including solar panels. Another 90 million euros will go to connecting the port to the railway system, freeing the city of trucks. The project will also separate the commercial from the tourist sections of the port, which is a major Mediterranean cruise stop with 1.5 million people transiting through every year. ''We must step up the pace of these public works, or we will lose the EU funding,'' Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris said of the overhaul, which is scheduled to begin in 2013, ending in 2015. ''The port is now the city's major economic resource, and represents many opportunities for businesses and tourism.'' ''We presented this great project to the EU, and we defended it until we got the OK,'' Campania Region President Stefano Caldoro said. ''This project will make our port an international hub of Mediterranean traffic, which is favored by our geographical location.'' (ANSAMed).