The European Union Affairs Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu acknowledged at a joint meeting on Monday that the rules for state aid in aviation must be made more flexible, effectively confirming that Estonia would maintain its prior positions in the European Commission on the matter.
"Several positions that Estonia has previously held remain relevant," Economic Affairs Committee chairman Sven Sester (Isamaa) told ERR. "We want for us to be able to receive more flexible state aid when it's necessary to launch one or another route. We want it to be possible to support Tallinn Airport to a greater extent; we'd increase co-financing to €5 million. We'd like more flexibility. These are the classic concerns of a smaller country located on the periphery."
According to Sester, Estonia is also interested in reducing the degree of bureaucracy involved in aviation. "A good example of this is when Lithuania wanted to launch a Vilnius-London route, it took two years to satisfy state aid rules," he noted. "By the time this was done, the market situation had changed already."
EU Affairs Committee chairwoman Anneli Ott (Centre) explained that state aid guidelines in the aviation sector are to be decided by the European Commission, which is currently awaiting feedback from member states and entrepreneurs in the field regarding current rules.
"Estonia needs to clearly state that state aid rules should be more flexible in the periphery of the EU," Ott said. "Aviation is a rapidly developing sector, and each day we fall behind affects Estonia's economy. We have to stand up for the development and security of the economic environments of Estonia and other peripheral regions of the EU, and aviation plays a very significant role here. It is for this reason that well-functioning air links are indispensable to increasing the competitiveness of peripheral regions and improved integration via connections."
The European Commission is awaiting feedback from member states on the relevance and application of current state aid rules in aviation through July 31.
Editor: Aili Vahtla