Photo by Venelin Todorov

Ahead of the Three Seas virtual summit taking place in Tallinn on 19 October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published a study that pertains to the region, highlighting the fact that countries in Central and Eastern Europe have a 1.15 trillion euro gap in infrastructure investments compared to Western Europe. In analysing the study with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid said that the investment gap in the Three Seas countries, which results from their historical legacy, must be filled.

The IMF study analysed the economic development of the countries in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (CESEE) and found that although they have achieved remarkable advances in the last 30 years, they first and foremost need to invest in infrastructure projects that connect the region – especially those that support digitalisation, the smart economy and climate goals – in order to reach the level of more developed European countries, i.e. the EU15.

Georgieva says that given the findings of the report, the most important thing is to increase the involvement of the private sector and at the same time to enhance the transparency and quality of the planning and implementation of investments. “Transparency is of vital importance here,” she remarked, adding that there is a great deal of interest among the private sector in profitable, long-term investments.

The Three Seas region is home to 12 European countries that lie between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas. President Kaljulaid says it is the region with the most rapid economic growth in Europe and that it is also attractive to private capital. “Since our level of development is lower than that of the EU15, every dollar or euro invested in our economies offers a higher investment pay-off,” she explained. “That makes our region a very competitive one.” The Estonian head of state says that the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund is designed to inspire global thinking so that private money can contribute to countries’ development. “We should be spending government money on the kind of automatic stabilisers that help people cope in a crisis and supporting long-term economic growth with private capital,” she said.

The Three Seas Virtual Summit and Web Forum being held in Tallinn on 19 October will open with a debate between heads of state on the future role of the cooperation platform. There will also be presentations and discussions on the funding of international infrastructure projects, and solutions will be offered for the digitisation of the energy and transport sectors – in which Estonia, as the world’s first digital society, will be showcasing the Smart Connectivity vision created to support the development of the Three Seas region. The event will be livestreamed, moderated by leading journalists.

The Three Seas initiative brings together 12 EU Member States between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Its key partners are Germany, the European Union and the United States. The initiative aims to promote cooperation first and foremost for the development of infrastructure in the energy, transport and digital sectors, but also to foster economic growth, to boost the well-being of the region’s population and Europe’s competitiveness, to ensure energy security and an energy market based on open competition and to achieve climate goals via smart investment.