Lithuania and Poland's Environment ministries signed a cooperation plan on Dec. 7 in Vilnius to increase EU funding for the management of protected territories during the 2005-2006 period. The current funding plan, which requires the EU to finance 5 percent of the necessary amount and the national budget the remainder, is no longer suitable for the two countries, which have been cooperating in the environmental field for the past 12 years.
Acting Environment Minister Arunas Kundrotas said that the two neighboring states weren't satisfied with the existing level of EU funds. "We will jointly fight with EU institutions for a revision of the financing mechanism and for them to grant more money to the protected territories," he said. The minister added that common efforts in EU financing talks should produce better results. "Together we are far stronger," he said.
The plan stipulates cooperation in the following fields: air protection, geology, environment, forestry, waste management, environment control, waste transportation, monitoring of natural resources and water management. Polish Environment Minister Jerzy Swaton said that the plan would have a positive effect on the quality of life of Lithuanian and Polish people. "Our cooperation is first of all aimed at ensuring a clean and healthy environment, which determines the life, quality and health of citizens in both countries," said Swaton.
A report by international consultant Deloitte and the Ashurst law office claimed that Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railway) could apply for EU infrastructure development support. The experts said that, in principle, there were no obstacles in seeking EU funds for developing the company's infrastructure, and it could apply for money from both the cohesion and structural funds. This, however, requires state cooperation, and the government did not include three of Estonian Railway's projects in the 2004-2006 transportation strategy. Several state officials have voiced doubt that, being privately owned, Eesti Raudtee could apply for EU funds. The company has also been accused of reluctance to participate in cofinancing projects.
Latvia's Transport Ministry plans to invest 507 million lats (745 million euros) - 655 million lats in road construction and renovation over the next eight years, using resources from the EU's cohesion fund, said the ministry's state secretary, Vigo Legzdins. He added that contracts on road renovation worth some 75 million lats had been signed. Latvia intends to receive approximately 181 million euros from the cohesion fund before 2006 for transportation projects, but this amount could change. The project's total value is over 300 million euros.