According to Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Centre), the construction of Rail Baltic falling behind schedule and the projected increase in the cost of the project don't mean that the European Union won't provide the necessary funding for the project.
"The EU has confirmed that this is a top five project for them," Aas said on Raadio Kuku program Nädala tegija (link in Estonian) on Friday. "If we on our part do everything we can to get back on schedule, there's no reason to believe that funding will be reduced or that the EU won't be willing to fund it."
Aas noted that as this is a rail project, there is no reason to doubt in the EU's support of it, as rail is one mode of transport highlighted in the union's climate goals as a means of fulfilling its obligations. "They are moving toward restrictive measures on road transport, and the only alternative to the highway is rail. If we fulfill the goals we have set, then we will receive funding in the next [funding] period as well," he said.
The EU has already allocated part of its funding, the minister noted, and in order to avoid losing it, every effort must be made to get back on track, schedule-wise.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania conducted a joint audit which revealed inefficiency in the management of the Rail Baltic railroad project that may lead to both its budget and its schedule being exceeded.
According to Aas, things are behind schedule because everything has taken longer than expected to do, and because the project's management scheme is "extremely complicated" due to the involvement of three separate countries.
He declined to speculate regarding how much more expensive the construction of the international high-speed railroad may end up being, suggesting instead to wait for the completion of Rail Baltic's main project.
"An assessment can be provided once the main project is complete," Aas said. "Before that, everything is just speculation with which there is no need to go along."
Editor: Aili Vahtla