Finance minister: Green revolution needs more money than planned

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) in Brussels.
Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) in Brussels. Source: ERR

Finance ministers of the EU discussed the climate-neutral economic investment plan in Brussels on Tuesday, and Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) believes that these plans fall significantly short of actual needs, the money will largely come at the expense of other EU activities, and that Estonia cannot be satisfied with the differential treatment of coal and oil shale in the calculation of support.

The European Commission's Green Deal investment plan reached the finance ministers' meeting for the first time, ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported from Brussels.

Helme found, however, that the sums of money involved fall significantly short of actual needs, and that much of the funding will come at the expense of other EU funds and activities.

"Finance ministers expressed various positions on this matter," said European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. "These positions, however, are part of a broader context of budget talks."

The Estonian minister is also unsatisfied with the differential treatment of coal and oil shale in the calculation of support via the Just Transition Mechanism.

"This key is somehow more favorable to the coal industry in the Balkans and Central Europe than to us," he said. "We're told that we will receive more money per capita than others, but this is due to the fact that we have a sparsely populated country with a small population. If we consider the effects of this industry on the economy, the effects of the energy industry on the economy or on energy intensity, then this key is clearly to our disadvantage."

A total of €125 million in so-called fresh money included in the Just Transition Mechanism has been earmarked for the support of Estonia, and Ida-Viru County first and foremost. This works out to €95 per person; the next highest support per capita stands at €65 in Bulgaria.

Even more important than support in the funding of the green revolution will be loans and loan policy. Sources of loans for fossil fuel-based energy are already quickly closing up, and this means that it will be increasingly difficult for Estonia to find a lender to finance the construction of a planned shale oil pre-refinery.

"We have taken into consideration the possibility that various European institutions will not participate in this loan," Helme said. "We in the government have a very clear political will to move forward with this. If necessary, we'll do it through government bonds; if needed, we'll do it by raising money on the stock market. We won't be stopped by this."

One possible funding opportunity cited by the minister was Three Seas Initiative funds.

The desire in the EU to support climate investments may, however, lead to the relaxing of budget discipline and state aid requirements in the future.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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