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Aab: Cohesion policy produces the most tangible results for EU citizens
Jaak Aab, the Minister of Public Administration, presented the priorities and activities of the Estonian Presidency to the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development today, and focused, in particular, on cohesion policy.
"Estonia considers cohesion policy as important, as it would help less developed regions and Member States to invest in areas that help them to catch up and build a good living environment – it produces the most tangible results for people," said Jaak Aab, the Minister of Public Administration. "As a whole, it brings about higher growth and better competitiveness for the European Union and thereby an increase in the well-being of all of us. Therefore, I hope that in the future the implementation of cohesion policy will be easier than today, where sometimes the administrative burden of implementing the projects has become high."
As regards their content and size, the projects supported through cohesion policy vary a lot. In particular, it would support investment in employment, innovation, science, education and entrepreneurship, which would all in turn enhance the economic growth in the EU as a whole.
So far, the projects improving the local living environment in Estonia include, for instance, the reconstruction of the Narva Pimeaed (Blind Garden), the promenade of Lake Tamula, bicycle paths between bigger towns, and various highways. In addition, support has been given to projects directed at tourism, which would at the same time create recreational possibilities for locals. These include, for instance, the Seaplane Harbour and the theme park called Lotte Village. As regards companies, support has gone to Cleveron, the producer of parcel terminals, as well as to Skeleton, which produces ultracapacitors, which have by now reached the international market. In addition, the project involving Põlva Gymnasium was selected to be one of the finalists of the 2017 pan-European project competition RegioStars. This involves a nearly zero-energy building, which would ensure an enormous energy saving for the school (link to the finalists).
In the EU as a whole, the cohesion policy projects have contributed to the creation of one million jobs, six million citizens have acquired access to clean drinking water, more than 120,000 start-ups have been supported, and almost 5,000 kilometres of highways and 1,500 kilometres of railways have been reconstructed.
Investments are supported via five funds: the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Fisheries Fund.
In the period from 2014 to 2020, Estonia will receive about EUR 3.5 billion from structural funds (when taking into account fisheries and rural life, this figure would amount to about 4.4 billion). The EU total volume of cohesion policy in this period is EUR 371 billion.