TALLINN - The European Commission on Monday approved a partnership agreement between the Commission and Estonia for 2021-2027 in the total sum of 3.5 billion euros with the biggest share of the funds, 780 million euros, being planned to be spent in Estonia on the development of renewable energy and prevention of climate change.
The total volume of funding to be made available for Estonia as part of the partnership agreement is around 3.46 billion euros, according to the Estonian Ministry of Finance.
"Large important investments are about to be made in energy -- we'll be able to invest 780 million euros in the development of renewable energy and energy savings with the European taxpayer's support. Every euro to be invested in energy must make Estonia more resilient to energy crises in the future," Estonian Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said in a press release.
"Altogether 740 million euros of funding is planned to be made available for research and development by Estonian businesses and for growth in the capacity for innovation but also for improving fast internet connection, which still needs a boost," she added.
From 2021 to 20227, Estonia will receive 1.7 billion euros of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), 780 million euros from the Cohesion Fund, 534 million euros from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and 354 million euros from the Just Transition Fund (JTF). In addition, the partnership agreement includes 97.4 million euros in funding from the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).
In addition to the partnership agreement, work with the plan for the implementation of Cohesion Policy funds, or the strategic plan for the use of EU support also continues. The implementation plan was approved by the government in early June and has been submitted to the European Commission. Estonia wishes to see the plan approved by the end of this year. Once the approval has been granted, Estonia can start implementing the support for the new period in full.
Estonia has six major goals for using its structural funds -- fair transition, and a smarter, greener, and more social Estonia that is better connected and closer to people.
Greener Estonia means investments in the reorganization of the energy system, development of renewable energy and prevention of climate change as well as investments in mitigating their impact. The 780 million euros of support is planned to be used for improving the energy efficiency of apartment buildings, investments in renewable energy, including in biomethane and heating systems, for developing the circular economy and supporting businesses in introducing more resource efficient solutions. Investments will also be made in environmentally sustainable city transport.
Closely linked to the green transition is the goal to render Estonia more climate friendly and to reduce its use of oil shale. This has the greatest impact on East-Viru County and in order to support and diversify local entrepreneurship, 340 million euros is planned to be invested in the county as part of the Just Transition Fund. Most of the sum will go towards supporting and diversifying entrepreneurship in East-Viru County, increasing its research intensity and retraining workers. Estonia will also use EU funding to make the living environment in East-Viru County more attractive by modernizing district heating systems, contributing to the resolution of environmental problems and developing social services.
A smarter Estonia means that Estonia should be a well functioning environment for the creation of smart solutions that improve competitiveness, wellbeing of people and make public governance more efficient. The 740 million euros of support is to be used for increasing the research, development and innovation capacity of Estonian businesses and for introducing digital technologies but also for developing the e-state and improving fast internet connectivity -- for example, investments will be made in 5G coverage in transport corridors and residential areas and in the establishment of large capacity networks in market failure areas.
Objectives for a more social Estonia include boosting employment, education and acquisition of skills and adjusting them to labor market needs. The goal also includes greater social inclusion and equal access to health care services. The funding totaling 6580 million euros will be used to finance lifelong learning, reform the vocational system, organize the basic school network, provide support services to young people who are neither working nor studying, and to offer food aid and essential goods to the most vulnerable people. Investments will also be made in long-term care and the health care infrastructure.
For a more connected Estonia, 521 million euros will mainly be invested in the transport network. The objective will see the railway developed and built, including local stops on the Tallinn-Ikla section of the Rail Baltic railway and an international passenger terminal in Parnu. The goal also includes the electrification of railways and investments in the completion of a European-wide TEN-T road network and in non-motorized traffic routes in rural areas.
The objective for an Estonia that is closer to people will see 193 million euros invested in the development of regional entrepreneurship and local public services outside large cities. Likewise to be supported is the development of urban environments and smart city pilot solutions as well as efforts to boost biodiversity in Tallinn, Tartu, Parnu and East-Viru County. The objective is to improve the availability of jobs and high quality services in all regions and to make the living environment more pleasant everywhere in the country.