'Samost ja Sildam': European support distribution in need of serious debate

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Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam on a previous edition of the eponymous Vikerraadio show. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam discussed Estonia's European support distribution plan on the "Samost ja Sildam" talk show and found that use of European subsidies is in need of a serious debate in Estonia.

The government on Thursday approved foreign support distribution for 2021-2027 in which period Estonia will see a total of around €4.83 billion. Major investments will be aimed at solving climate change and aging population problems, with digital services, research and education also getting a share.

Samost described the sum as notable and said that a serious debate is in order over how to use the money. He opined that previous governments have not held sufficient debates on the use of European support.

"What makes one cautious is the fact that distributions drawn up by previous governments, possibly with the best intentions, have seen hundreds of millions of euros spent on projects that at worst only created new fixed costs, where the money was simply spent. It was a popular position that European subsidies should not be poured into concrete, while looking back, some of the things that were poured into concrete are quite tangible and continue to serve the Estonian people today. While it is very difficult to say whether sums spent on various training and educational programs so to speak were realistically of any use," Samost offered.

The current plan seems to include quite a few concrete things, Samost said.

Sildam agreed and gave examples of infrastructure objects built using European support. "The significance of these structures definitely goes beyond the seven-year budget perspective," the host remarked.

"It is much more tangible and understandable than spending €788 million on solving problems associated with population aging," he added.

Sildam said that the question is to what extent use of funds will reflect the interests of the Reform-Center coalition versus looking what Estonia needs and how to make it better in general.

He added that the Tallinn Hospital and Rohuküla railroad projects are clear manifestations of the Center Party's program.

"Looking at the digital sector, it is largely Reform's. The green leap has been owned by both parties. Topics of major parties intertwine with those of smaller competitors here," Sildam said.

Samost emphasized that the opposition's take on things remains unknown. "The distribution has been clear since Friday morning, while I have not noticed a single comment by any of the opposition parties," he pointed out.

Sildam said that he believes opposition forces are analyzing the document in great detail. "I have no doubt they will put forward their proposals next week, it just takes a little time," the host added.

Editor: Marcus Turovski

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