Estonian Auditor General Alar Karis on Monday submitted to President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor the National Audit Office's annual report, which focuses on the need to prepare to ensure the smooth fulfilment of some of the state's task in the event that financial support from the EU significantly decreases.
Although the initial volume is estimated to be determined in 2019, Estonia will likely be able to use significantly less financial aid during the next budget period beginning in 2021, the National Audit Office said.
The Ministry of Finance said that according to initial estimates, and not taking into account the impact of the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU, financial aid is to decrease up to 40 percent, or by approximately €1.5 billion, compared to the current budget period.
During the current 2014-2020 budget period, the EU is to support Estonia with a total of €4.4 billion in structural and investment funds. Approximately €3.5 billion of this is being disbursed in cohesion policy subsidies, including oward the development of education, business, transport, the information society and the environment, and approximately €900 million is going toward supporting the agriculture and fisheries fields.
The overview of the National Audit Office does not handle the support for agriculture and fisheries as those are developed on a special basis and are not based on the member state's GDP or GNI indicators.
"We cannot and must not keep endlessly looking with some kind of a demanding expectation towards the union's wealthier member states, seeing this kind of aid as a natural and irrefutable part of our lives and income and thinking that somebody else must give us money," Karis said during his meeting with Nestor. "A viable and sustainable country must build their functioning on the money that we ourselves are able to earn with our hands and brains.
"It is not too much to once again recall the repeatedly discussed need to critically mentally assess everything that the state is currently doing and consider what is actually necessary," the auditor general continued. "This should be done regardless of whether the flow of external aid continues in the same amount or decreases. When making decisions, we are guided by a simple question: would we be doing this or that the same way if we had to cover all the costs associated with the decision? And before answering, we should take a break to think it through. The present is a suitable time for such a thought exercise."
The auditor general emphasized that it is reasonable to use the current good times to prepare for times that are not as good by building up reserves, carrying out reforms to control the growth of expenses, and promoting the creation of new income.
Editor: Aili Vahtla