At the meeting of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) of the European Parliament, MEP Yana Toom (Renew Europe/Centre Party), the shadow rapporteur for the REGI opinion on the report “Job creation – the just transition and impact investments”, told the members of the committee about the situation in the Ida Viru region of Estonia.
Yana Toom emphasized the importance of oil shale production for Ida Viru and the fact that in 2020, oil shale companies still represented 40% of the largest employers registered in the Ida-Viru area. “It is clear that the Green transition will have a profound impact on the region,” she said. “Some reports estimate that 3700 jobs could be lost due to the plans to move away from oil shale, which is almost 10% of the working population of the region. Ida-Viru is already expected to lose more than a third of its population by 2045 if current trends continue. If we are not able to foster an environment with attractive jobs, areas such as Ida-Viru will become ghost towns, where the younger generations choose to move to other regions and only the older population is left behind.”
“It is very easy to talk here about retraining and up-skilling people that lose their jobs when these fossil fuel plants are closing. But actually ensuring that we are able to provide viable paths for the future means that we will have to listen to the communities involved and give them the ability to steer the development of their regional economies... We must not forget that for many people their job is much more than just putting food on the table. Their job can be part of their identity or it might be something that their parents and grandparents did and feels like it was passed on to them across generations… An aspect that probably sets Ida-Viru apart from other similar regions in Europe is that the population is mostly made up of Russian speakers and the region is situated on the border with Russia. All of the measures that are proposed for the Just Transition Plan of this region have to keep this in mind.”