Estonia received a positive decision on the grant application for EstMilMob, a military mobility project aimed at improving transport connections toward Tapa Army Base over the next five years. The total cost of the project is €62 million, half of which will be financed by the EU.
Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, the European Commission decided to move up its plans to allocate grants for military mobility in order to make improvements to European transport infrastructure that would allow for dual military-civilian use, the Ministry of Defense said in a press release on Monday. Last week, the European Commission Directorate General for Transport announced the projects that will be funded from the Connecting Europe Facility's (CEF) military mobility fund.
"Investing into infrastructure means that we will gain necessary speed and ease in the mobility of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF)," Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) said regarding the funding decision. "As a result of this work, we will also be able to receive allied forces faster, which is important in terms of both defense as well as deterrence. We indeed appreciate that the EU and the European Commission are allocating funds to these types of projects — in the current security environment, it is a very welcome development."
"Considering the Russian aggression, it is very clear how important it was to create a separate facility for military mobility projects, and I hope all [EU] member states will make effective use of this measure in order to increase capabilities in Europe," said European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei. "I am very glad that a project submitted from Estonia is also among the first 22 that was greenlit. It was very well prepared and will significantly improve the effectiveness of civil and military mobility."
Although the infrastructure project in question is aimed primarily at improving military mobility, it is expected to benefit civil and commercial users and the transport sector more generally as well. The project includes the construction of a new dock and loading area at the Port of Paldiski, reconstruction of the Kanama overpass in Saku Municipality as well as repairs on the railway between Tartu and Valga.
Port of Tallinn CEO Valdo Kalm explained that in addition to the faster reception of allied equipment, the new dock will also allow for renewable energy development as well.
"The planned investment will create the conditions necessary for the Port of Paldiski to become a base port for the construction and maintenance of maritime wind farms, which will in turn help Estonia reach its climate goal obligations and contribute to business development in the region," Kalm said.
"Within this project, Estonian Railways will renew the infrastructure on the Ropka-Keeni and Keeni-Puka sections of the railway, which will increase the quality of the infrastructure in these sections, allowing trains to travel faster and, if needed, for the railway to be used for military logistics," Estonian Railways CEO Kaido Zimmerman said.
According to Kaido Padar, director general of the Estonian Transport Administration, the planned reconstruction of the Kanama overpass and its surroundings in Harju County's Saku Municipality will considerably improve traffic safety for an intersection that sees some of the heaviest traffic in Estonia at more than 32,000 drivers per day.
"The reconstruction of the Kanama overpass, which is limited in weight bearing as well as narrow, will eliminate a dangerous bottleneck," Padar explained. "A new overpass will allow for limitless traffic, both civilian and military."
One of nearly 40 projects
The EU is providing a total of €425 million in financial support to 37 projects that will help deliver a transport network that is environmentally sustainable and with key infrastructure sections fit for dual civil-defense use, the European Commission said in a press release.
The projects have been selected among those submitted under calls for proposals issued under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the funding instrument for strategic investments in EU transport infrastructure.
Editor: Aili Vahtla