The European Commission is awaiting further answers from Tallinn City Government before it can decide whether state aid should be granted for the renovation of Linnahal, but the Ministry of Culture has not yet submitted a new application to start the process.
Anu Liinsoo, Chairman of the Management Board of Tallinna Linnahalli AS told ERR: "In particular, they are asking us to clarify the forecast for cultural, non-economic events, to update construction prices and such. It takes a few months to put together the material which the European Commission will then evaluate. Whether it is then ready to issue a state aid permit or something else is to be clarified, time will tell."
Liinsoo said an application to permit the use of state aid has been made previously, but at that time there were no discussions about incorporating a possible opera house into the redevelopment.
"The pending application has been made for the construction of a concert and conference center. What the Ministry of Culture is talking about is a possible new application for a permit which should be submitted if it is decided to build an opera hall. If the government adds an additional function to Linahall, a new request must be made as the functions will have changed. In the meantime, we will continue with the ongoing proceedings, " Liinsoo explained.
Last November, plans to build a new opera and ballet hall inside Linnahall were floated by Minister for Culture Tõnis Lukas. However, this idea clashed with plans created by Tallinn City Council, who own the building, to turn it into a destination for conference-related tourism.
The city council said they needed to be consulted before the ministry made any solid plans, and so far, no firm decision has been made. Whatever the final decision, there are plans to turn to the European Commission and apply for a state aid permit.
The head of public relations at the Ministry of Culture Meelis Kompus told ERR: "The ideas has been debated and a number of amendments are being made and are currently being worked on. I want to emphasize that there are no definitive solutions yet, the discussions are very much in process, so it is too early to say which solutions are feasible, how much it will cost or anything like that."
Kompus added that a new state aid permit had not yet been applied for, as the work is ongoing and no concept has yet been approved. "The state aid application can be submitted to the European Commission if the new concept and cost are clear," said Kompus.
"These things are related. The state budget strategy for 2020-2023 adopted in 2019 has agreed that €40 million will be invested in the reconstruction of Tallinn's Linnahall into an international conference center to develope Estonia as a conference and tourism destination," said Kompus.
Editor: Helen Wright