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  • 1 Baltic Defence College, Tartu, Estonia
  • 2 Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
  • 3 Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, and University of Tartu, Center for EU–Russia Studies, Estonia
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The present study revolves around the question of the appropriateness of “the White Elephant syndrome” to characterise the nature of the planned trans-Baltic railway project Rail Baltica (RB) in terms of its initial financing, long-term profitability and symbolic importance. Whereas, in general, the expected outcome of the project goes well together with the EU Cohesion Policy goals, in its concrete application RB could serve as an example of the tendency of politicians and public servants to institutionally lock themselves into certain irrational choices about publicly financed mega-projects. This is what “the White Elephant syndrome” metaphor illustrates. Methodologically, this paper aims to analyse whether RB meets the common criteria of “the White Elephant syndrome” of public investments or if it can be seen as a sustainable and profitable long-term project after the initial investment.