Integrating Estonia and the Baltics into the European railway network via a modern and direct railway connection with a large amount of financial support from the EU is an opportunity that will not present itself again if not seized now, said European Coordinator for the TEN-T North Sea-Baltic Corridor Catherine Trautmann.
"Under the Connecting Europe Facility, transport projects compete for funding," Trautmann explained in a press release on Monday. "Resources which are not used in one project will benefit another transport project with high EU priority. Even if the exact outcome of budgetary negotiations at the EU level is not yet known, it is only natural that projects such as Rail Baltic, fulfilling all criteria set in EU regulations, will be considered highest priority for access to financial support in the future as well, especially if they are well advanced in the construction phase."
Trautmann said that as European coordinator of the North Sea-Baltic Corridor, she has been closely following the Rail Baltic for several years now, acting as a facilitator between the five member states involved in its development.
"For several months now I have been concerned to observe how the project is used by some politicians and opponents in Estonia who continue to spread false information in the public sphere," she said. "It is up to every country to make its own decisions, but as European coordinator, I see it as my duty to highlight the risks and opportunities involved."
Trautmann noted that they have been fighting for a high-speed railway connection in her home region for decades. "Today we see the economic boost this has brought even to sparsely populated areas along the railway," she highlighted. "Accessibility is one of the key factors for attracting companies, along with a qualified workforce and digital infrastructure. We are living in an economy of fluxes, and the Baltic States deserve to be better connected in order to fully benefit from these developments."
The coordinator noted that Rail Baltic is part of a Eurpean corridor that involves eight member states, all of whom have agreed to concentrate scarce resources on this project as it is a missing link in the European railway network.
"As demonstrated by the updated cost-benefit analysis presented in April, Rail Baltic is realistic and viable and its socio-economic benefits outweight the costs by far," said Trautmann. "Drawing back from it would be breaking an engagement that has been built up over a period of years, affirmed in numerous political declarations as well as in the relevant legal texts adopted at the EU level."
The European coordinator noted that, last but not least, Rail Baltic was not a pipe dream, but rather a project that is already ongoing and which has received substantial EU suport, in the amount of €733 million in the Baltics and €488 million in Poland. "If the project advances according to schedule, it has every chance to benefit from additional financial resources both under the current and the next EU financial framework," Trautmann noted.
Editor: Aili Vahtla