In recent decades, the prosperity of society has increased and people’s well-being has improved, but above all, the progress of life has affected Tallinn and Harju County.
Two thirds of our national wealth is concentrated in Tallinn and Harju County. However, there are regions and people who have not participated in Estonia’s success story or have received it to a small extent.
More than a generation has also talked about Estonia’s marginalization and uneven development, and attempts have been made to reverse these processes. But in the big picture, it hasn’t worked. Due to the lack of jobs, especially paid jobs, and the desire to provide a dignified livelihood for their families and a better future for their children, they are leaving their homes. Departure to Tallinn, Tartu or abroad.
The rapid development of the economy has largely taken place thanks to the support of the European Union, which has also boosted education, culture and many other areas. But in a paradoxical way, the euro money, more precisely the rules of its use, have instead amplified the gaps between the golden circle around Tallinn and the capital and the rest of Estonia.
The saddest thing is that the problem is well known to the state, but there is no political will to solve it. The “Estonian Regional Development Strategy 2014–2020” commissioned by the Ministry of Finance confirms that, given Estonia’s small size, regional differences are too great and there has been no shift towards more even territorial development. It also shows that euro billions have a role to play in growing inequality. Previous money-sharing programs have not been able to slow down the process, as national support measures do not take into account local specificities and needs. If a Tallinn company with abundant knowledge and financial resources and a peripheral company compete for euro support under the same conditions, the money is often concentrated in the capital.
This is a crucial moment. Over the next seven years, Estonia will receive a record amount of euro money, with the help of which it will be possible to provoke major changes in the country’s development. Unfortunately, the amount directly earmarked for regional development is falling from EUR 250 million to EUR 219 million. The measures proposed are the right ones, but the amounts are ridiculously small. Millions of regional development will not receive billions on the wrong footing.
It is high time to start preferring rural areas to larger cities. The Social Democrats have proposed that an additional 350 million euros be channeled into small towns and rural areas to create jobs. Outside the “golden circle”, this could mean five million euros per municipality. There will be other money left for light traffic roads and other important projects, this amount must reach the companies directly. Be it the acquisition of new equipment, the training of staff, the digitization, the involvement of science, the creation of export capacity or any activity in support of regional needs.
Investments in euro money can increase the productivity of existing jobs, increase wages and create new jobs. It is estimated that we would be able to create 15,000 profitable jobs across Estonia, which means an average of 1,000 well-paid jobs for each county. Only in this way can we slow down the depopulation of the countryside, otherwise the sad statistics will continue, with 2,000 people leaving their homes every year.
A member of the Riigikogu elected from his or her region deserves to be examined whether he or she supported the plan to reduce regional inequality when the large hall of the Riigikogu discussed it at the end of September. There is no first or second Estonia, all are our own people who deserve a full life both in the countryside and in the city.
Source: Lääne Elu by online.le.ee.
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