Is the European Union’s cohesion policy more like verivorst that many find tasty, but some do not understand the ingredients of the receipt, or is it more like a sweet pie, where the best part comes with melted chocolate on top of your piece? Let’s have a closer look here at one of Estonia’s success stories.
Investing in regions to increase cohesion and economic growth throughout Europe
The regional policy of the European Union is a framework for financing a wide range of projects and investments that are meant to help the EU Member States and regions do better and boost economic growth.
Regional policy spending goes through three funds, often called 'Structural Funds'. These are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund. During the period 2007-2013, spending on regional policy amounted to an average of almost €50 billion per year, which is more than one third (35.7%) of the total EU budget.
Job creation in Estonia
For Estonia, which has already been a Member of the European Union for 10 years, cohesion policy funding reached €3.5 billion from 2007 to 2013.
The money was spent on energy economies, entrepreneurship, administrative capabilities, education, information society, environment protection, regional and local development, research and development activities, healthcare and welfare, and transportation. Among many successful projects, more than 9000 jobs were created.
Supporting social and ecological projects
One of the remarkable projects was the construction of the Nõlvaku nursery in Laagri, Saue Parish, Harjumaa County. With a contribution of €1.6 million from the ERDF, it is the first close-to-zero-energy public/municipal service building in Estonia.
We also believed that the building be constructed in such a way that the long-term costs stay as low as possible; the building is contemporary and answers all quality standards Andres Laisk
“While planning the construction of the new nursery, we first wanted to create a suitable environment for the kids. We also believed that the building be constructed in such a way that the long-term costs stay as low as possible; the building is contemporary and answers all quality standards”, says Andres Laisk, Mayor of the rural municipality Saue.
The Nõlvaku nursery is also a positive example of how two local municipalities - Saue and Saku - have cooperated together. They have cooperated superbly to build a child-friendly, stylish and ecological public building for the benefit of the citizens.
Building an energy-saving house is not rocket science. With reasonable planning and a project, and by using already-existing skills, it is affordable to every municipality
“We would like to encourage everyone: building an energy-saving house is not rocket science. With reasonable planning and a project, and using already-existing skills, it is affordable to every municipality. The most important thing is to engage the best specialists and not to make short-sighted trade-offs, which one could fall into because of emotional or financial reasons.”
A reformed cohesion policy for delivering the Europe 2020 goals
The success story continues. The EPP Group in the European Parliament played a major role in the adoption of the reformed EU cohesion policy for 2014-2020, with a budget of over €350 billion.
It is based on a clear and balanced strategic framework designed around the priorities of the Europe 2020 goals, such as creating growth and jobs by targeting SMEs in particular, tackling climate change and energy dependence, and reducing poverty and social exclusion.
Estonia has been allocated around €3.59 billion in total cohesion policy funding.