European Parliament signs off on €243-billion post-pandemic funds

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The main European Parliament building in Strasbourg. Source: EPA/Scanpix

The European Parliament has officially adopted regional cohesion funds to the total of €243 billion, issued primarily in response to the coronavirus pandemic and which Estonia is likely eligible for a chunk of.

The package passed Wednesday, and member states wishing to take advantage of it must adhere to EU core values, BNS reports.

The legislation lays down common provisions for the Regional and Cohesion fund, the Just Transition Fund (JTF), the European Social Fund Plus (ESF) and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, which combined constitute a third of the EU's total budget for 2021-2027 at €330 billion.

The support will also aims to help culture, sustainable tourism, digitalization and the public health system, in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Regional and Cohesion Funds constitute the largest EU investment tool, budgeted at €243 billion per annum, at 2018 prices, and making up around a quarter of the 2021-2027 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).

The cohesion package, as it is colloquially known comprises the European Territorial Cooperation Goal (Interreg), the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, as well as the Common Provisions Regulation, a set of norms governing EU regional, cohesion and social funds over the next seven years.

Estonia and any other countries wishing to obtain EU funding will have to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as promote gender equality and fight discrimination.

Around 30 percent of cohesion funds have to be spent on climate change action, the circular economy and investments in sustainable growth and job creation, BNS reports, with specific measures for SMEs and the EU's periphery, including Estonia, likely coming.

EU legislators reached political agreements on the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, Interreg and the Common Provision Regulation in December 2020.

The Committee on Regional Development approved the deals in December and March, paving the way for the Council to adopt its first reading positions on May 27.

All three regulations will be published in the EU's Official Journal on June 30, while it will enter into force the following day.

Investments related to nuclear power or fossil fuels are excluded from support, with an exception made for projects on natural gas to replace coal, valid until year-end 2025.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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