TALLINN - Estonian local governments have great expectations for support measures from the new EU budget period as they would enable to direct European funds to smaller communities in rural areas, thus preventing their marginalization.
According to a proposal by the European Commission, altogether 3.37 billion euros' worth of cohesion policy support is to be allocated to Estonia for the 2021-2027 period. The support will be used for meeting six goals -- smarter Estonia, greener Estonia, more connected Estonia, more social Estonia, a state that is closer to people, and fair transition, according to the Association of Estonian cities and Rural Municipalities.
"Estonian cities and rural municipalities want to benefit from opportunities presented by the new European support period. The measures would enable to direct European funds to smaller areas to prevent their marginalization and improve the living environment by harmonizing infrastructure and service levels -- from ICT to social affairs. We're also hoping at the same time that Estonia's major cities, too, will be able to apply for support measures, for instance for developing tram transport in Tallinn," board chairman of the association Tiit Terik said.
"As a countrywide local governments' association, we want to participate in the development and planning of EU structural measures so that the state's measures to be developed for the coming period should also have the face of local governments and that the measures could be used for developing local governments through investments and improvement of services," deputy director of the Association of Estonian cities and Rural Municipalities Jan Trei said.
"Our association wants to see planned domestic measures aligned with local governments' needs and that the own financing of the planned measures be affordable for local governments so that access to structural funds be ensured to all local governments," he added.
Discussions of the EU structural funds for 2021 and beyond were held this week at the initiative of the Ministry of Finance. Estonian local governments want greater consideration given to regional aspects during the planning of measures in order to reduce regional disparities.
In fall 2020, the Association of Estonian cities and Rural Municipalities carried out two idea collection actions among its members, and sent analyses of the results to the minister of finance and minister of public administration at the start of this year.