Estonian government suggests northeastern towns use EU support to revitalize problem areas

The Estonian Interior Ministry has sent to the government of East-Viru County recommendations on using European Union structural funds of the 2014-2020 period, suggesting regeneration of problem areas of the region’s major towns as one possibility, the daily Eesti Paevaleht says.

The measure called “physical, economic and social revitalization of problem areas” has not been used in Estonia before because elsewhere in Europe it is aimed at regenerating urban areas that have turned into slums. In Estonia such areas can be found in East-Viru County and for that reason the measure was suggested to the local authorities, adviser at the ministry’s regional policy bureau Madis Kaldmae told the paper.

The measure makes it possible to develop social services or infrastructure in a part of a town to keep it fit for living, Kaldmae said. In other parts of Europe the measure has been used to revitalize city centers from which people tend to move out, Eesti Paevaleht says.

Although slumization has decreased over years the county government is paying heightened attention to several urban areas that are losing inhabitants and because of that remain outside the general development of the region, PR adviser at county government Veiko Taluste said, naming the Sompa, Kukruse and Viivikonna districts of Kohtla-Jarve as such areas.

The county government will consider the ministry’s recommendation on Monday.

The City of Narva has already forwarded its position to the ministry, saying that such a priority — revitalizing concrete urban areas — does not suit it and that the emphasis should rather be on developing a regional visitor center and tourism, and public support infrastructure for enterprise.

The mayor of Kohtla-Jarve, Jevgeni Solovjov, said the city has not yet received the ministry’s recommendations so he is not in a position to comment. However, instead of regeneration many vacant and dilapidated houses should simply be pulled down, he added.

In his words, several city districts have become depopulated because jobs have disappeared and people are hardly likely to move back there if there are no new jobs.

It is up to individual cities to decide whether to make use of the measure for which 10 million euros has initially been designated.

Source: BNS via Estonian Review

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