Operational Programme 'Development of Living 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 (modified 08/06/2011) a major development programme in Estonia for the period 2007-2013, entitled "Development of Living Environment". It 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 Community investment through the ERDF and CF amounts to EUR 1.5 billion (approximately 47 % of the total EU money invested in Estonia under Cohesion policy 2007-2013).

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

The programme aims at improving the quality of life in Estonia in environmental and social terms. Therefore, the OP lays basis for long-term sustained growth of Estonia.

Major investments will be directed into fulfilling EU directives on water, wastewater and solid waste management. Furthermore, environmental protection will be improved by dedicating resources to environmental education and constant monitoring. Estonia will be better equipped to fight environmental emergencies, such as forest fires and accidents at sea – particularly with oil tankers.

The OP will also improve infrastructure for services in a large number of local communities, thus solving important social issues hindering economic development. In addition, there will be major improvements in vocational training infrastructure, boarding schools infrastructure, schools for students with special educational needs etc.

Support will be given to the modernisation and optimisation of the hospitals networks in order to provide better and more accessible services. Better living, learning and working conditions will also be provided for children and for adults with special psychiatric needs living in welfare institutions.

2. The expected impact of the investment

55 000 persons will be provided with new public drinking water and sewerage systems. The improvement of environmental conditions will lead to nine river ecosystems being cleaned to promote spawning fish migration.

All environmentally inadequate industrial and domestic waste dumps will be closed down.

An almost five-fold increase is foreseen for the generation of energy from renewable sources. The share of bio fuels in transport is expected to rise to 8%.

It is expected that at least 120 000 people will benefit directly from new infrastructure provided in local communities, based on the needs of these communities. 1500 students with special needs will be able to study in a fully modernised environment, and 90% of studying facilities in vocational education centres will be modernised.

3. Priority axis

The programme will be implemented through six main priorities and technical assistance.

Priority 1: Development of water and waste management infrastructure

Supply of drinking water will be improved, water protection infrastructures will be provided. Waste management will focus on decontaminating oil shale waste dumps and constructing new environmentally sound industrial and municipal waste landfills as well as closing and rehabilitating old environmentally hazardous landfills.

Priority 2: Development of infrastructures and support systems for sustainable use of the environment

Within this priority the following actions are foreseen: development of environmental education infrastructure, improvement of environmental monitoring and supervision, preservation of biological diversity and improvement of preparedness for environmental emergencies.

Priority 3: Development of energy sector

Energy efficiency and environmental performance of energy use will be improved through supporting broader use of renewable energy and energy saving in distribution networks and by final consumers, including the housing sector.

Priority 4: Integral and balanced development of regions

Development of local public services to improve living conditions in rural regions, alleviation of urban problems and strengthening of regional competitiveness. Promoting cooperation between rural regions and towns.

Priority 5: Development of educational infrastructure

Actions foreseen are: modernisation of vocational education facilities, provision of schools intended for children with special educational needs, open youth centres, information and counselling centres and hobby schools.

Priority 6: Development of health and welfare infrastructure

Acute and nursing care hospitals and state welfare institutions for children and for people with special psychiatric needs will be modernised.

Priority 7: Horizontal Technical Assistance:

Measures common for all programmes to ensure the proper management of the funds, such as monitoring of assistance, evaluation, training of officials, support for project preparation and management, publicity measures etc.

Priority 8: Technical assistance:

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

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Development of Living Environment'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision

C(2007)4692 + C(2011)4137

Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Development of water and waste management infrastructure 626 334 156 93 617 551 719 951 707
Development of infrastructures and support systems for sustainable use of the environment 92 032 774 9 749 659 101 782 433
Development of energy sector 28 760 241 0 28 760 241
Integral and balanced development of regions 388 582 823 68 573 439 457 156 262
Development of education infrastructure 212 765 713 1 188 193 213 953 906
Development of health and welfare infrastructure 169 110 222 51 457 649 220 567 871
Horizontal technical assistance 28 553 498 5 038 853 33 592 351
Technical assistance 2 759 832 0 2 759 832
Total 1 548 899 259 229 625 344 1 778 524 603