The Piraeus Port Authority has announced that the European Commission has approved its plans to expand the southern cruise port with co-financing from the European Community, national (Greek) sources and from the port authority.

The announcement was made by Yiorgos Anomeritis, chairman and CEO of the Piraeus Port Authority, who also said that the project will transform Piraeus into a major cruise hub in the Mediterranean.

The expansion of the port is designed to accommodate the new generation of larger ships, more than 300 meters in length.

Moreover, according to Anomeritis, the project approval carries significance beyond Piraeus, as it is viewed as a pilot project to build ports with state and EU funding.

The project cost is estimated at 120 million euro with the Commission approving state aid in the amount of 113.9 million, of which 86.9 million are financed by the EU Structural Funds; 17 million euro come from Greek sources; and 6.1 million euro from the Port Authority.

Thus, the state financing is 95 percent, which is believed to be the highest level of support given to a port in Europe.

Anomeritis commented: “This decision will enhance the Greek cruise industry and transform the Port of Piraeus into a gateway of tourism and culture.”

In related developments, Anomeritis said earlier this month that transit cruise traffic was up 17.23 percent for the first five months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

The European Commission has also announced that Piraeus will be the “Maritime Capital of Europe” in 2015.