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EU to step up supervision of Pompeii

Italian plan will 'convince the sceptics', says minister

26 October, 17:22
EU to step up supervision of Pompeii (ANSA) - Rome, October 26 - The European Union on Wednesday pledged closer supervision of Pompeii and more funds in future to protect one of Italy's most popular historic sites.

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said that the EU would make "constant checks" on a plan for Pompeii, stressing that measures to protect and maintain the ancient ruins would continue for at least four years.

Hahn met Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan and other ministers in Rome for urgent talks after part of a wall collapsed at Pompeii when heavy storms wreaked havoc across southern Italy on Friday.

Galan said Hahn had 105 million euros of EU funds "in his pocket" but they had not been formally handed over for cultural projects including Pompeii.

"However, I believe that the plan proposed by the ministry would convince even the most sceptical," Galan said.

The Minister for Regional Affairs Raffaele Fitto said the EU funds would be used for education, broadband, infrastructure and employment.

"Italy will not lose the eight billion euros of European funds on December 31," Fitto said.

"Pompeii's 105 million euros were part of the one billion euros allocated for (Italy's) cultural affairs in measures arranged with the European Commission and destined for other cultural sites, in particular for regions in the south".

Pompeii was destroyed when a volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius buried the city in ash in 79 AD and it now attracts more than two million visitors a year.

Polemics about looting, stray dogs and structural decay have dogged Pompeii in recent years and there was an outcry on Friday when an eight-square metre section of a wall fell near the Nola Gate at the site.

The wall's collapse followed the fall of the House of the Gladiators last November, an event which drew criticism from UNESCO and the European Union.

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