Operational Programme 'Development of Economic Environment'

Programme co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) under the Convergence objective


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The European Commission approved on 10 October 2007 a major development programme in Estonia for the period 2007-2013, entitled the Operational Programme (OP) "Development of Economic Environment", modified on 8 June 2011. This programme involves European Union support for Estonia within the framework of Convergence objective. The total budget of the programme is around EUR 1.8 billion and the Community assistance through the ERDF and CF amounts to EUR 1.5 billion (approximately 42 % of the total EU money invested in Estonia under Cohesion policy 2007-2013). The objectives of the OP are complemented by investments from the Human Resources development programme supported by the European Social Fund (approximately 11.5 % of the total funds).

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

Estonia has made significant progress in economic development during last 15 years and particularly after its accession to the EU in 2004. Estonia has attracted much foreign investment, modernised the productive environment and is among the leaders in the use of IT solutions in society.

The OP for Economic Environment aims at further improving the environment where economic competitiveness and productivity of enterprises can increase. This will lead to better and more sustainable transport infrastructure reaching all the regions and Trans-European networks (TEN) connecting Estonia with neighbouring countries and the central part of Europe, improvement of public transport networks, enhancement of the research and development system in the country, raising the growth capacity of enterprises and supporting the development of information society.

The programme will support a wide range of economic activities, from technology-intensive industries to tourism and development of creative industries (design, architecture etc.). Economy and enterprises will mainly benefit from investments improving the environment (better knowledge creation in universities, better transport network, improved public services), but there will not be direct financial support to companies.

2. The expected impact of the investment

77.69% of the investment available has been "earmarked" for Lisbon-related expenditure. The OP aims at permanently increasing the GDP growth rate in Estonia.

Major infrastructure projects will be undertaken to improve the flow of traffic in and around Tallinn. Regional centres will receive better links with Trans-European Networks. The programme aims at maintaining the competitiveness of public transport in Estonia at least on the current level, especially by providing sustainable electric transport in and around Tallinn.

The programme aims to double the productivity of labour force by 2015, to increase the number of exporters by 30%, to increase investments of enterprises in the research and development (R&D) sector from 1.6% of GDP to 2.6%. 800 scientists will benefit from modernised scientific equipment, 25,000 m3 of research space will be upgraded.

The number of tourists visiting Estonia is expected to grow by 75%.

3. Priorities

The programme will be implemented through five main priorities and technical assistance:

Priority 1: Innovation and growth capacity of enterprises

Investment is foreseen for the development and productivity growth of enterprises from all sectors of the economy by increasing their research and development and innovation capacity; development of tourism and creative industries.

Priority 2: Improving the competitiveness of Estonian R&D through the research programmes and modernisation of higher education and R&D institutions

Investment is granted for the development of thematic R&D programmes targeted at long-term economic development focusing on the areas where Estonia has strong scientific potential, as well as for the development of centres of excellence, infrastructure and equipment of R&D and higher education institutions. Better international cooperation is envisaged.

Priority 3: Transport investments of strategic importance

Provision of the infrastructure needed to ensure international flow of goods on Trans-European Networks and clean and efficient means of public transportation for the capital, Tallinn.

Priority 4: Development of regional transport infrastructure

Improvement of the accessibility of Estonian regions is foreseen. Secondary road network will be improved, regional ports and airports will be upgraded.

Priority 5: Development of information society

Accessibility of the IT network will be improved, especially for people with special needs. The transparency of decision procedures in municipal and central government level, will be improved, giving people the possibility to participate in the process. Quality of e-services in the public sector will be improved.

Priority 6: Horizontal Technical Assistance

These measures will ensure the proper management of the funds, such as monitoring of assistance, evaluation, training of officials, support for project preparation and management, communication and information activities.

Priority 7: Technical assistance

Support for specific measures relating to the implementation of the programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Development of Economic Environment'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision

C(2007)4694 + C(2011)4138

Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Innovation and growth capacities of enterprises 424 309 435 8 972 444 433 281 879
Enhancing the competitive ability of Estonian 310 223 307 54 745 290 364 968 597
Transport investments of strategic importance 525 397 290 92 717 169 618 114 459
Development of regional transport infrastructure 110 523 614 0 110 523 614
Promotion of information society 62 633 416 0 62 633 416
Horizontal technical assistance 28 553 498 5 038 853 33 592 351
Technical assistance 1 402 733 0 1 402 733
Total 1 463 043 293 161 473 756 1 624 517 049