On 19 October Estonia hosted the Three Seas Virtual Summit. New investment plans were revealed as heads of state and business leaders discussed the future of Central and Eastern Europe as well as funding of international infrastructure projects and digitalisation of the energy and transport sectors.

“I am most happy that we managed to deliver what we promised to our partners in this initiative. This has been a year of consolidation. We now have an initiative that has matured and developed from presidential summits into focused and practical regional cooperation format that has a strong emphasis on economy,” said President Kersti Kaljulaid.

“We have the potential to invigorate the economy of our region. And especially so when we use the most modern technological solutions in building the infrastructure,” President Kaljulaid referred to the Smart Connectivity vision, an additional Estonian contribution, which helps to find ways to make more effective use of infrastructure.

President Kersti Kaljulaid welcomed high-level participants to the event center Kultuurikatel in Tallinn, including the presidents of Bulgaria and Poland. Due to the realities of the coronavirus, most participants attended via live video-link.

Moderated by Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman, an opening virtual panel brought together presidents from several of the Three Seas region nations, who explained what the 3SI means to them and their countries. It was followed by high-level discussion, in which Presidents of Estonia, Poland and Bulgaria along with representatives of the U.S. and the European Commission shared their views on the future of the initiative. This laid the groundwork for three major developments whose announcements followed.

First, Keith Krach, U.S. Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment revealed the plans of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to invest at least €300 million towards the Thee Seas Initiative Investment Fund, making up 30 percent of the fund as it stands at present (i.e. €900 million, raised by partnerships between the 12 states and the private sector globally). The formal decision will be made in December. The U.S. has agreed to extend the pledge to 1 billion on the 30 percent principle, meaning as investments snowball to around €3.4 billion, their contribution reaches 1 billion.

Second, the Polish State Development Bank, represented at the Three Seas Virtual Summit by Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka, President of the Management Board of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, announced an additional investment of €250 million into the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, taking Poland’s total contribution so far to €750 million. The first private investor to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, Amber Infrastructure Group, was also announced.

Third, was Estonia’s own Smart Connectivity Vision Paper, unveiled at the summit and thoroughly discussed by international experts. The aim of Smart Connectivity is to establish a growth platform for innovative services and to support economic growth based on innovation. This could ultimately lead, for example, to the automatisation of road transport and the smart transformation of electricity networks, allowing consumers to simultaneously play the roles of energy consumer, producer and saver. In order to realise this ambitious vision, the same principles will need to be observed throughout the Three Seas region when constructing transport and energy infrastructure and there will need to be a greater focus on the open exchange of data and the use of data that have been amassed.

To round off, President Kaljulaid announced that next year’s Tallinn Digital Summit will be dedicated to Smart Connectivity which could be a basis to create the next growth advantage for the Three Seas region.