Estonia has not mobilized European Union funds at the required rate and could keep losing hundreds of millions of euros intended to mitigate the effects of the pandemic crisis, the daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported on Wednesday.
From 2021 to 2027, Estonia has utilized €24.9 million, or 0.7 percent, of the €3.37 billion in regular EU funding. In addition, only €19.6 million, or 2 percent, of the €953 million allocated to the recovery fund, the daily wrote (link in Estonian).
"The EU authorized the recovery fund at the start of 2021. Estonian approved the use of it in the fall of the same year, and in December, Brussels transferred €126 million in pre-financing to the Ministry of Finance. As of May 2023, €100 million of this transfer has not been utilized and is resting in the state account, while significant inflation is underway," EPL wrote.
Unlike the European structural funds, the recovery measure has a very strict timetable. The billion-euro operations must be finished and all funds released by the first half of 2026. "There's no time to waste - if you don't make it, you're out," the paper continued.
Problems with regular EU funds
EPL stressed that the issue of utilizing EU funds is not limited to the post-pandemic recovery fund, but also pertains to the structural EU funding for the 2021-2027 budget period, i.e. regular EU subsidies.
This year's EU budget implementation has been significantly delayed compared to previous years, although these initiatives require more preparation and launch time.
"In May 2016 about €150 million, or 4.4 percent of the available €3.37 billion, had been allocated to support economic initiatives. /---/ As of the start of May 2023, only €25 million, or 0.7 percent, of the €3.37 billion available for the period 2021-2027 had been utilized," EPL reported.
Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa