With hindsight, one can say that it has been a strange decision to create the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP).
This body was created in 2001 during the Finnish and Swedish presidencies of the EU. This is basically a fund of €350 million for projects that will improve the environment and nuclear safety for the Baltic Sea and Barents Sea.
The grants are used to leverage over €500 million in loans from international financial institutions like the EIB, EBRD, NIB, NEFCO, and domestic publicly owned development banks like KfW.
Basically most of this money has been poured into Russian projects because they are the people who have been polluting the most!
In other words, with the benefit of hindsight, taxpayers from the above countries have been supporting projects with substantial amounts of taxpayers’ money and loans that basically stop Russia polluting the 2 seas with raw sewage and other nasty stuff.
Russia today sees itself as a major energy super power, with huge oil and gas reserves. Its oligarchs and top politicians control enormous wealth, while most of the population is managing on relatively low incomes, and enjoy living conditions that can best be described as being sub-standard in European terms. The rule of law and opposition parties are limited with some journalists and opposition politicians being murdered or imprisoned. During the last decades, Russia has spent some 5.4% of GDP on defence, compared to UK 1.8%, USA 3.3%, Germany 1.3%, France 2.3%. This military power has invaded or interfered, or threatened countries like the Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova…
The investment in NDEP from Finland and the other Nordic countries can be seen as providing a cleaner environment for ourselves, but this has not been a free ride. Money has be paid in in the form of grants from taxpayers and loans at the risk of taxpayers. The Russians are more than able to finance these projects themselves and clean up the filth they pump in to the air and water.
Good neighbours do not throw their feces and other dirty pollution over the fence.
The Russian’s should be grateful for this cash injection, but Nordic taxpayers should also be aware that the money paid out of their pockets and the loans made by those banks that operate at our risk are funds that we also could use for our own people. The Russians actually do not need our money at all for these projects! If they can build and operate nuclear submarines and warships, if they can plan and build long distance nuclear missiles, if they can launch rockets to orbit the earth, surely they can stop pumping raw sewage into the open seas too?