TALLINN - During the European Union's 2014-2020 financial period, Estonia received 3.7 billion euros from structural funds, and all the support for Estonia from the European Commission has paid out.
Some 220 million euros has yet to be paid out to beneficiaries. Over this period, more than 14,500 projects have been supported.
Concurrent with the ending period, a new 2021-2027 financing period of structural funds is beginning, bringing 3.37 billion euros to Estonia, along with the implementation of the Recovery Fund, which adds about one billion euros for funding important investments and reforms in Estonia. As of early November, 2.4 billion euros of the new period's budget is ready for use, with funding decisions and contracts made to the tune of 1.1 billion euros.
"We are currently at the juncture of changing funding periods, where the priority is to ensure that all previously planned projects are successfully implemented and the full amount of support is brought to Estonia, and to give a strong start to the measures of the new period. At a time when our state budget is in a difficult position and the economy urgently needs stimulation, maximum effort is required to utilize the funds allocated by the European Union in a timely manner. These funds offer an opportunity to make significant investments in the country in areas like education, research and development, energy, green reforms, transportation, social protection, and many other fields," Estonian Minister of Finance Mart Vorklaev said.
Key themes for the upcoming funding period include energy saving, the introduction of renewable energy, and moving towards a more environmentally friendly and resource-efficient economy, which is especially relevant in present conditions. The support of structural funds enables more significant developmental leaps in these areas in the coming years as a third of the new period's budget is intended for supporting green reforms.
Another equally important goal is to increase the research, development, and innovation capabilities of Estonian companies and the adoption of digital technologies, with plans to invest 740 million euros in this field. Estonia is investing in this to ensure that the country is an efficient environment for creating smart solutions that will increase its competitiveness, people's well-being, and make state governance more effective.
In addition, the implementation of the Just Transition Fund aimed for East-Viru County is underway, bringing 340 million euros of support funds to the region. Many projects have already been selected, and most measures have been initiated. Since the implementation timeframe for this fund is narrower, ongoing progress and market conditions are closely monitored, and changes are made to the measures as needed to optimally utilize the support funds for the region. The latest major changes have been the expansion of the scope of business support and simplification of conditions, as well as changes in the energy sector measures, including the support of 15 million euros for the renovation of apartment buildings and the decoupling of district heating in the northeastern town of Kivioli from oil shale.