Estonia received support for 1,580 projects from EU structural funds last year for a sum total of 1.9 billion kroons (121.4 million euros), the Finance Ministry said. All told some 3,460 applications were filed for training support, launching new businesses and investing in agricultural production. "Applicants' interest in certain national-development-plan programs was huge," Renaldo Mandmets, a ministry official, said. "For instance, in the framework of measures to foster the information society and rural life development, more aid was sought already in the first year than allocated for the entire 2004-2006 period." During the said period Estonia can receive as much as 5.8 billion kroons in EU support funds.
Lithuania's Economy Ministry has announced that it would begin turning down applications for EU financial support in certain areas beginning Feb. 17 due to an excess of requests. The Business Support Agency, a state-run institution, said it would cease accepting applications for three activities pursuant to the single programming document: enhancing energy consumption efficiency in the public sector, direct assistance for companies wanting to expand or build conference facilities and for developing cultural heritage tourism. The agency may resume accepting applications after all those received to date are assessed and funds are allocated.
The European Commission has allocated funds for the first three projects in Latvia's transport sector. Aldis Bite, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry, said that the main highways between Jekabpils-Varaklani, Skulte-Svetciems, Adazi-Gauja, Bauska-Grenctale and Priedaine-Sloka would be improved. The project cost 106 million euros, and 85 percent or 90 million euros from this sum would be covered by the Cohesion Fund.
The second project calls for the reconstruction of railway tracks in several segments of the eastern-western railway corridor. It costs 89 million euros, with the Cohesion Fund covering 46 million euros. The third project, worth 1.5 million euros, will provide technical support to the transport sector. All three projects should be completed by 2009. Latvia hopes to receive approximately 181 million euros from the EU Cohesion Fund by 2006 for such projects.