When it comes to the distribution of EU funding, handling Estonia as two separate regions could bring in up to €700 million in additional funding for the country, according to the Social Democratic Party (SDE).
The SDE council on Saturday discussed the opportunity to handle Estonia as two separate regions in the next EU budgetary period in the name of reducing regional inequality, as doing so could bring in up to €700 million in additional funding for the country.
"In reducing inequality, Estonia has made many necessary decisions in the last three to four years, but regional inequality still remains extremely high," said Marika Saar, SDE council chairwoman and deputy mayor of Elva Municipality.
The GDP per capita of Harju County, which includes the capital city of Tallinn, is nearing 110 percent of the EU average, but remains below 60 percent on average in the rest of the country.
"In this situation, we must utilize all options to ensure that the different tempos of development in the Greater Tallinn region and the rest of the country do not rip Estonia in two in the future," Saar said, adding that this scenario should have been addressed years ago already. "Several previous Finance Ministers have left this job undone, but we must speak about it and start dealing with it tomorrow already — better late than never."
"If we do not do proper homework by the time of the budget talks, there is serious danger that we will lose out on actual money," MEP Ivari Padar said, adding that Estonia has been good and grown its economy nicely. "As Estonia's average GDP per capita exceeds 75 percent of the EU average before the start of the next budgetary period, we must be prepared for the support sums to be allocated to us decreasing significantly, and we must prepare measures now already for the reduction of negative regional impact. Regional inequality is a fact, and fighting it must be one of our primary objectives."
Editor: Aili Vahtla