Finland and Estonia signed MoU including Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel
Finland and Estonia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday 26 April 2021 for more cooperation. This will promote projects such as Rail Baltica, the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel, Trans-European Transport Networks, and the North Sea–Baltic Sea core network corridor.
Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka and Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas signed the MoU on Monday this week. The purpose of the MoU is to cooperate in the transport sector and exchange of information between the countries regarding several large railway projects. The MoU provides an improved environment for applying EU funding for the projects. However, the two countries are not bound by the MoU to any individual projects.
“Final stop Rail Baltica should be Helsinki’
The Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas is glad that Finland and Estonia have agreed upon a common ground for the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel project and Rail Baltica. “The final stop of Rail Baltica should not be Tallinn but Helsinki. Integrating the tunnel to TEN-T will serve as a new freight gateway to Europe and make our capitals a twin-city”, said Aas.
The MoU states that the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel is a unique project of the future that would require innovative actions and diversified sources of funding. Together with Rail Baltica, it would provide a quick access to Central Europe. The use of the tunnel is foreseen for both passenger and freight transport.
“Finland and Estonia have very ambitious rail projects underway. Our countries and capitals are located in the same EU core network corridors that will soon be expanded”, says the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka. “The overall objective should be that the transport systems of Finland and Estonia operate in multimodal integration, providing high-quality and sustainable journeys and transport between Northern and Central Europe”.
In February 2018, the FinEst Link project published the results of the feasibility study of the Helsinki-Tallinn railway tunnel. Based on the study, a working group of representatives of the Finnish and Estonian Ministries of Transport and Communications and the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn will assess the follow-up action required. Cooperation related to the tunnel was discussed at the joint meeting of the Governments of Finland and Estonia in May 2018.
Next steps for the tunnel
“Unfortunately, the decision of the cabinet meeting does not mean that we can talk about the tunnel connecting Estonia and Finland in a certain way, but in the case of such a huge project, it is also important that both countries express their will,” said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas last week. “When the protocol is signed we can move forward with the preparations for the possible construction of the tunnel by the state.”
The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications intends to re-launch the Tallinn-Helsinki Tunnel Working Group in the near future, which includes the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Communications of both countries, as well as the Tallinn and Helsinki city governments. The MoU will be in force until 2030.