Rail Baltic agreement ratification bill passes first reading

Martin (back) and Mart Helme (EKRE) during May 17's marathon sitting of the Riigikogu. EKRE proposed to dismiss the Rail Baltic ratification bill, but failed. Source: (Rene Suurkaev/ERR)

Among the 24 bills the Riigikogu deliberated and voted on for more than 17 hours on Wednesday and Thursday was the bill for the ratification of the Rail Baltic development agreement between the Baltic states. The bill passed its first reading.

The bill made it to the floor after 8:00 p.m. only, but the debate leading up to the vote still lasted just under two hours. After the debate, the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) proposed to dismiss the bill, but didn’t manage to gather enough support, and the bill passed the first reading.

The government passed the ratification bill on to the Riigikogu after a new feasibility study on Apr. 27. The agreement is signed, but for it to enter into effect, the national parliaments of all three Baltic states need to ratify it as well.

Details regulated in the agreement include the route, the construction timetable, and the future ownership of the railway infrastructure as well as the land it is built on. The international agreement among all participating countries is necessary as some issues cannot be regulated privately and within the corporations founded to realize the project.

The total cost of the works on Estonian territory is projected to total €1.3 billion, of which Estonia’s own contribution is €250 million. Up to 85 percent of the Rail Baltic project funding will come from the Connecting Europe Facility.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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