Latvians and Estonians are about to embark on active cooperation in the marine transport, entrepreneurial and social spheres. Cooperation will be launched in the framework of seven new projects, which recently received around 75 million kroons of support from the Estonian-Latvia cross-border cooperation programme.
In future, it will not only be Latvian bears that travel to Ruhnu island. The small ports of Mērsragsi (Latvia), Ringsu (Ruhnu) and Roomassaare (Saaremaa) have received support for a project called BayLink, in which the ports will receive additional investment to connect them by small passenger ship routes. Thanks to the fairly short distances and mutual interest, this service would be reasonable in terms of both time and expenses. The restructuring work is planned to be completed in the next two years.
To make rescue operations in the twin border towns of Valga-Valka more effective, Latvian and Estonian rescue services will begin close cooperation in the framework of a single rescue service project for Valga and Valka to ensure a better level of rescue operations using new rescue vehicles and equipment.
Arriving at a common understanding of shortcomings in the region's social and economic development, improvement of opportunities to realize innovative ideas, pre-incubators and investor forums - these plans are at the heart of the small business support network cooperation project, which will soon be implemented by the Riga Region, the Ventspils University College, Ventspils High Technology Park, Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Tartu Science Park and the Tartu-based Institute of Baltic Studies.
The project "BoostBiobusiness" will stimulate cross-border enterprise and support the establishment of a regional bio-sciences and medical cluster. The project participants are BioMed SA (Estonia), the University of Tartu Institute of Technology, the Archimedes Foundation, the Latvian Technology Park, the University of Latvia Innovation Centre and the Business Innovation Centre of Latvian Electronic Industry. The project will help small and mid-sized Estonian and Latvian companies join forces with research and development institutes, helping raise the competitiveness of biosciences, medicine and medical information and computer technology enterprises on the international level.
Supporting the development of children with mental disabilities and integration with society by increasing society's tolerance toward the disabled - this is the primary goal for two non-profit organizations dedicated to helping disabled children and their families - MTÜ Anni Mängumaa (Estonia) and Cerību Spārni (Latvia) - and the Tartu University Hospital's Estonian Genome Foundation. The cooperation will result in the preparation of instructional materials for families raising mentally handicapped children, events (meetings, camps, support) to increase the families' own self-confidence and social awareness. Cooperative initiatives will be carried out with Estonian and Latvian non-profit associations in this field and genetic research centres
It is a wise idea for Estonians and Latvians to add to their experience in energy-efficient construction and work together in this field - and that is the idea behind the Active through Passive! project, which will be implemented jointly by Valga city government, Strenči municipal government, the University of Tartu, the non-profit associations Passive House Latvia and Zaļās majas and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and industry. Through the sharing of know-how between specialists from both countries, a common set of technical standards for energy-efficient construction will be developed.
Cross-border cooperation between community groups of people 45 years in age and up will be developed in the framework of the Still Active project. The Estonian and Latvian communities participating in the project will unite efforts for implementing various social, cultural and economic activities. The project will be made possible thanks to cooperation between a great many active organizations - the foundation for Latvian community initiatives, Naukšēni municipality, Kööna mäe Elukool, Ape Local Government, Society for the Supporting the Development of Ape, Varstu Municipal Government, Varstu Kultuuritarõ, Helme Municipal Government and Taagepera Village Society.
The Estonia-Latvia programme is calling for new grant applications for cross-border cooperation development projects in various areas of activity between Estonia and Latvia. The programme, financed from the European Regional Development Fund, supports cooperation projects where Estonian and Latvian partners both pitch in and from which the inhabitants of both countries stand to gain. Public, private and third sector organizations are welcome to contribute good ideas. The programme covers Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Rīga and Pierīga regions in Latvia, and Hiiu, Jõgeva, Lääne, Põlva, Pärnu, Saare, Tartu, Valga, Viljandi and Võru Counties in Estonia.
The programme will be implemented on Estonia's behalf by the Ministry of the Interior and Enterprise Estonia, while the Latvian coordinator is the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. The programme's secretariat is located in Tartu and there is an information centre in Riga. The programme's budget up to 2013 is nearly 600 million kroons. For more information, visit www.estlat.eu.