TALLINN - Deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Ahti Kuningas hopes that Estonia will not have to break its obligation to the European Union to duly complete by 2030 its updates to the Tallinn-Parnu-Ikla and Tallinn-Tartu-Voru-Luhamaa roads that are part of the main grid of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), and that several options could be weighed in case of a shortage in funding.
According to a report published by the Estonian National Audit Office in mid-September, pending sharp financing cuts in 2022-2025 mean that Estonia probably will not be able to fulfil its commitment to the EU to upgrade the Tallinn-Parnu-Ikla and Tallinn-Tartu-Voru-Luhamaa roads of TEN-T to a higher standard by 2030.
"One option is that we request that these roads be moved from the main network of TEN-T to the general network where the deadlines and requirements are more flexible," Kuningas said at Monday's sitting of the state budget control select committee of the Estonian parliament.
The general network of TEN-T is planned to be completed by 2050 and it aims to ensure access to and connectivity with all EU areas. The deadline for the completion of the main network is 2030, however, and it consists of the parts of the general network that are strategically the most important for meeting TEN-T goals.
Kuningas noted that taking out a loan is also an option for completing the Estonian roads in TEN-T by 2030.
"The state budget has thus far been the only source of funding for us, as well as various external resources, but we've also analyzed our options for borrowing and cutting costs -- and these options for funding also exist," he said.
The deputy secretary general said that constant underfunding and instability in financing for road construction emerged when funding for the field was cut off from excise duty revenues.
"Prior to that, funding was easily forecast and we were able to make long-term plans. Now we greatly depend on the election cycle. As we know, there will be a new composition of the Riigikogu in spring and a new government will take office, and the entire road maintenance plan and funding for it will be under heightened scrutiny," Kuningas hoped.