Poland cuts Chinese firm from road key to Euro 2012

* COVEC loses showpiece motorway deal in Poland

* Road agency to seek new builder in two weeks

* Warsaw wants link to Germany ready for Euro 2012

WARSAW, June 13 (Reuters) - The Polish road authority said on Monday it had cancelled a deal for Chinese builder COVEC to work on a key highway meant to link Warsaw to its western neighbour Germany before Poland hosts the Euro 2012 soccer games. COVEC had hoped the contract would open up other projects in the European Union. But work on the 50 km (31 miles) of the A2 highway halted in May when it failed to pay its Polish partners, and an ultimatum set by Warsaw to resume operations went unmet.

“We have taken the decision today to terminate this agreement,” Andrzej Maciejewski, deputy head of Poland’s road agency GDDKiA, told reporters.

“In two weeks time we will restart the process of seeking investors for the highway, and in July work will restart on A2. We want the road to be traversable in late May 2012.”

Euro 2012 begins next June, cohosted by Poland and Ukraine.

OVEC was not immediately available for comment.

Maciejewski said GDDKiA would seek 741 million zloty ($271.1 million) in compensation and penalties from COVEC and ban the company from public tenders in Poland for three years.

GDDKiA had spoken with 16 prospective new contractors “and more are getting in touch with us,” Maciejewski said.

Poland has lagged repeatedly in developing the large-scale infrastructure needed to host Euro 2012, drawing criticism from the country’s top audit agency. [ID:nLDE7560F8]

But the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said last week it had no real concerns about the tournament’s viability. [ID:nLDE117560]

Poles place a premium on the highway to Germany as it is their biggest neighbour, a key trading partner, home to many soccer fans and a symbolic gateway to western Europe. (Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Dan Williams)