The recent enlargement of the EU to 25 Member States clearly creates a new challenge for its Cohesion Policy. Disparity levels within the EU have increased substantially and will further increase with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. This is an explicit point of attention as the Treaty states that, in order to strengthen its economic and social cohesion, the Community shall aim at reducing the disparities between the levels of development of various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions or islands, including rural areas. This aim lies at the core of the Commission’s regional policy.
One of the key elements of the cohesion policy of the Commission is the contribution of the development of new transport infrastructure to regional economic development. Extensive spending has taken place in this domain under ERDF, Cohesion Fund and ISPA. One of the prominent initiatives in the European Union in this respect is the development of the Trans-European transport networks (TEN-T). In 2003 the Commission has identified the 30 priority projects of the TEN-T up to 2020.
The most important document concerning transportation in Estonia is the Transport Development Plan (TDP) by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
According to the transport development plan, the purpose of the development of
the national transport system is to guarantee citizens and visitors mobility and to offer services to other economic branches, following the principles of sustainable development.
Within the Estonian transport development plan’s objectives and measures special
attention is paid to the regional development, to accessibility of all Estonian regions, and to sustainable spatial planning. One of the three main state tasks mentioned in the Transport Development Plan (TDP) is to minimize the harmful effects of transport to environment and health. In order to reach the mentioned objective, the following measures are planned:
- ensuring the implementation of the principle of internalisation of transport’s
- external costs (introduction of the ‘user pay principle’: infrastructure charges),
- following the principles of sustainable development
- using innovative technologies.
The impacts are assessed with the support of the SASI model. The SASI model
is a recursive-dynamic simulation model of socio-economic development of 1330 regions in Europe. The model was developed to assess socio-economic and spatial impacts of transport infrastructure investment and transport system improvement
s. Is has been applied and validated in several large EU projects including the IASON and ESPON projects. The SASI model differs from other forecasting models of regional development by modelling not only production (the demand side of labour markets) but also population (the supply side of labour markets). Regional production by industry is forecast by regional production functions containing production factors capital, labour, regional endowment and accessibility. Regional population is forecast by a demographic model including fertility, mortality and migration. The SASI model is specifically relevant for projects that serve a function on a European level (e.g. the TEN projects). Such projects cannot be adequately evaluated using traditional cost-benefit analysis on a national scale, since they are less able to capture the international effect and the indirect effects occurring in non-transport sectors.