• 2004-10-27
The first three Latvian businesses to have completed all the necessary work for EU structural funds recently signed final agreements with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency. The agency reported that state support for the three companies totaled 614,000 lats (916,000 euros), of which over 600,000 lats will go toward Dailrades Koks furniture maker for modernizing four plants. SIA Interaktivo Tehnologiju Grupa (Interactive Technology Group) will receive 8,451 lats for research in its IT sector, while BFDF, a furniture and design company, has already taken part in an international exhibition in Germany and is set to receive 6,598 lats.

Lithuania has voiced discontent with European Commission proposals concerning northeast Atlantic area fishing quotas for 2005. On Oct. 22 the EC adopted a proposal concerning the distribution of fishing quotas for deep sea species among new members Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. "Lithuania sided with other new EU member states in its address to Brussels over the permission to fish in northeast Atlantic areas, where the fishing is regulated by the EU. However, the quotas offered to Lithuania are particularly small," said Genadijus Babcionis, chief expert of the fishery department's EU and international affairs division under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Estonia's Economy Minister Andrus Ansip has set up a commission to look into the possibility of building a new bridge to Russia across the Narva River. "The commission's task is to analyze different alternatives for developing border crossing infrastructure and to conduct the environmental impact and feasibility studies," said East Viru county Governor Ago Silde. The Narva border checkpoint has reached the limits of its throughput capacity and experts warn that congestion could reach a critical level if cargo flows and tourism should increase further. For this reason designing and building the new road bridge in the border city has been made a key part of Estonia's strategic 2004 - 2013 transport development plan under the current government. The Narva Transit Project has been included among others to be financed with EU cohesion funds.

The European Commission said it hopes that Latvia submits projects by the end of 2004 for approval on the remaining 190 million euros' worth of cohesion funds still available in the environment and transport sectors until 2006, EC Regional Policy Directorate general director Jose Palma Andres said last week in Riga. Latvia has so far approved 11 projects in the sector in the hope of receiving EU cofunding worth 208 million euros. In all, the country has 515 million euros available from the EU cohesion fund for the period ending 2006.

Latvia is set to continue major road repairs next year, spending 126.7 million euros - 85 percent of which will come from EU funds - to repair 125 kilometers of roads. The Transport Ministry's investment department director, Andulis Zidkovs, said that an application for the project had already been submitted to the EC, with tenders for the jobs to be announced this winter. The project will cover road sections between the towns and cities of Jekabpils-Varaklani, Skulte-Svetciems, Adazi-Gauja, Bauska-Grenctale and Priedaine-Sloka. Construction could be fully completed by late 2007.