Finance minister: We must increase pace of implementation of EU funds

Mart Võrklaev, finance minister.
Mart Võrklaev, finance minister. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

Commenting on Friday's cabinet meeting, at which the matter was discussed, Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) said: "We agreed on steps at the government level to accelerate the use of funds so that all funding opportunities at our disposal could reach the economy here and now."

While Estonia is in the front rank of EU states in terms of the pace of using funds, a joint effort is needed for further acceleration, it is argued, particularly the final phase of the preceding funding period looms.

"Just as we have capitalized on all the funding opportunities in the previous two funding periods, we are committed to fully using all available funds to drive the development of Estonia this time as well – especially today when the economy is going through a very difficult period and funds play an important role as an incentive," the minister added.

In addition to the structural funds, the recovery plan financed by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which was approved in its original form in autumn 2021, is being implemented simultaneously.

Due to decreased funding and the dramatically changed economic and geopolitical situation, amendments were made to the recovery plan, which were recently approved by the European Commission.

The renewed plan focuses more on climate investments, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy and energy savings, the ministry says.

During the 2014-2020 structural funds period, which is in the process of ending, EU funds boosted the development of Estonia to the tune of €4.4 billion, of which another €600 million is to be utilized this year.

Despite the many crises which have strongly impacted the implementation of EU-funded projects during this period, a number of schools and kindergartens were built, the hospital network was restructured and the first steps towards the green transition were taken over the past seven years.

At present, measures for the new period are continuously being introduced and investments are being launched, with the first call for applications also being opened.

As of today, more than 20 percent of the funds of the new funding period have been committed and the first €27 million have already been disbursed to beneficiaries.

As this year marks both the conclusion of the previous funding period and the launch of the new period, it is also particularly important to maintain a strong focus on the pace of the implementation of funds at the government level, the minister says.

In light of this, during today's cabinet meeting the current situation and key areas of risk were reviewed and common objectives and actions were agreed upon for the second half of the year.

Investments in the circular economy, resource efficiency and green transport are all important steps that will be supported further by the new 2021–2027 funding period, with a total allocation of €3.37 billion.

The cabinet meeting was held Friday, June 9, to discuss the end of the preceding EU structural funds period, the start of the new period and the challenges and options of accelerating the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the finance ministry says.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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