Today, at the meeting of the leaders of the European Union capitals with the European Commission commissioners Jyrki Katainen and Corina Cretu at Brussels Town Hall, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov emphasized that for the development of Tallinn–Helsinki twin-city, the continuation of development programmes for neighbouring countries sharing a sea crossing is important in the next budget period as well.
The European Commission has made a set of proposals in the next programming period regarding the territorial cooperation to support functional regions that exceed administrative boundaries. “Needless to say that the cooperation with Harju county surrounding us from the mainland is extremely important for us. A current example could be even free public transport, which applies to the city of Tallinn and for the most part to the rest of Estonia, but not for the county surrounding us. This distinctness is not sustainable,” said Novikov.
“For Tallinn, however, the cross-border cooperation with our twin-city Helsinki is also very important, with whom we form a strongly functionally interconnected socio-economic combination. And here the proposal of the European Commission regarding the territorial cooperation in the next period proves very problematic for us, that Interreg cross-border programmes should in the future only focus on land borders and maritime cross-border programmes should be ended,” minded the Deputy Mayor.
Every year 9 million people move between Helsinki and Tallinn of whom 80% are the residents of Estonia and Finland and 20% are the tourists visiting us from abroad. We clearly constitute a uniform functional region in the Baltic Sea region. In exactly the same manner as the region of Copenhagen and Malmö, who, however, is considered an exception, referring to the bridge that connects them. “In our opinion, this is an unequal treatment of Tallinn–Helsinki if the basis for creating the programme is only the way people move but not the proportional capacity and reasons behind moving,” said Novikov.
“By firmly supporting the territorial cooperation general principle of the Commission concerning the functional regions that exceed administrative boundaries we ask for equal treatment regarding the maritime and land borders,” confirmed Novikov. If it is not possible for some reason, Tallinn will apply for a derogation to the Helsinki and Tallinn region anyway, similarly to the Öresund region, which is also located at the Baltic Sea.