At the conference on “Unused Opportunities”, organised in Tartu for senior public service managers this weekend, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas presented his vision of objectives for 2018, emphasizing the need for a development boost for economic growth, security, cohesion and innovation.
”2018 will be a landmark year for Estonia. We will assume Presidency of the European Union, which should be the crown jewel of the celebrations, dedicated to 100 years of Estonian statehood, as well as a kind of maturity examination,” Rõivas said.
Speaking about economic development, Rõivas said that Estonia's GDP (gross domestic product) should increase by a quarter by 2018.
“To meet this target, we need to increase the employment rate, using previously untapped resources: this requires successful implementation of the work capacity reform and encouragement for young people to avoid early dropping out of education,” he said.
He also emphasised the need to increase productivity and investment in research and development, as well as general reorientation towards resource and energy efficiency. According to Rõivas, the large infrastructure objects should also help along.
“In 2018, the construction of the Rail Baltic track and the third Estonia-Latvia electricity interconnection should be underway, and the Balticconnector pipeline should be nearing completion.”
In the field of security, Estonia aims at a new level of capacity of the Defense Forces, supported by the largest armaments program after restoration of Estonia’s independence, development of the Ämari Air Base, creation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force with NATO, and close cooperation and joint exercises with allies.
Rõivas said the temporary border line between Estonia and Russia should be cleaned up by that time and supported by additional guarding capacity.
“A rapid reaction unit will be formed in the border guard in the next year. We will also continue investments in smart solutions to help us increase our border-guarding capacity,” Rõivas said.
Rõivas also set targets to increase innovation. “In 2018, all popular services should be easy to use, efficiently provided and readily available everywhere and to everyone, with some of the most frequently used services fully transferred to online platforms," he said. “In the Estonian economy, the conduct of business affairs and records management takes place in real time and is almost completely paper-free, providing another boost for increased efficiency and productivity,” he added.
Rõivas said that he hoped that by the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia, the country will have gained its first 100,000 e-residents who have registered thousands of new companies in Estonia, supporting exports and the country's tax base.