The Estonian government officially claims that its Recovery plan has all the climate action elements required. But this is impossible to prove, as the Plan has been drafted behind closed doors.
In a nutshell:
- Engagement of civil society in the planning process is superficial, if not fake
- Not enough time available for a meaningful dialogue with civil society
Since the end of 2020, environmental organisations have been asking the Estonian government to get engaged in the process of designing reforms and investment measures for the Recovery plan. In response, they keep hearing that there is no need to worry – priorities are public, inputs from previous discussions have been considered and soon enough a more detailed dialogue would start.
There are rumors that detailed plans are already exchanged between government offices and negotiated with the European Commission. On the other hand, there has been no consultation with civil society organizations, and the decision making process is far from being transparent. The only public event that took place up to March was a simple press conference introducing the priorities of the Plan and the sectoral division of funds.
Admittedly, a marathon of discussions took place between March 22 and 26, but with limited possibilities for debates on needs and alternative solutions. Stakeholders are invited to share their feedback in upcoming weeks, but many have reflected that measures presented need to be completely redesigned to be effective. For many more it remains questionable if an in-depth analysis on the climate action impact of the Recovery plan will be possible or publicly accessible.
In a best-case scenario, transformative investments will be approved but Estonia would have lost an opportunity to improve cooperation between sectors in policy planning, implementation and assessment.
In a worse scenario, around €1 billion of EU cash will be spent unwisely, making a minimal contribution to Estonia’s climate ambition and losing the momentum for an ecological transition.