Entrepreneurs are in no hurry to request money from the European Union's Just Transition Fund as there is a risk the whole amount will not be allocated by the 2026 deadline. Officials are now simplifying the application process to encourage more applications.
The Just Transition Fund was launched in Ida-Viru County a year ago which will help businesses in the region pivot away from shale oil production. At the time, fierce competition for the money was expected.
However, only a fifth of the €340 million has been allocated.
"When we were in the process of drawing up the Just Transition plan, there was a much higher expectation that all the money would come in and all the money would be allocated immediately, but we can see that it's a little bit more difficult. Large companies are not so worried, but small businesses are. Everybody is working really hard to get these companies there," said Ivan Sergejev, coordinator for the Just Transition mechanism.
The measure for small and medium-sized enterprises opened three months ago. Entrepreneurs are cautious about investment opportunities.
"When these measures were designed, we had one reality. Now there is another reality in the world, the war and the energy crises that we have had. How will it affect this company, this sector? Now is not a good time to make these forecasts, there are so many outside factors," IVEK business consultant Jefim Aljoškin told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".
The government's special representative to Ida-Viru County Jaanus Purga, who has been in the role for a month, said the government should be more active.
"If you see there's no queue, you have to go to the trader yourself, but that's only one side of it. On the other side – and this is already in the works – the measures need to be relaxed. The economic activity codes that you can apply for or not apply for, we're doing away with those or eliminating them as much as possible. If there are any restrictions on forms of business, we will remove them. We will broaden restrictions on where you can operate. Now a tourism measure is being brought in – that's for sure, but it's not enough, we're bringing in more. Perhaps, the measure was a little too focused and now is the moment to broaden it and there is a desire and a will to do so," he said.
70 percent of the funds of the just transition fund, or €250 million, must be paid out by the end of 2026.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera