What's happening in Estonia in 2023?

Pikk Hermann tower.
Pikk Hermann tower. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

ERR News takes a brief look at the year ahead.

Tallinn takes over as the EU's Green Capital

A cyclist riding through Tallinn's Tammsaare Park. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

January 1 - December 31

Estonia's capital takes over as the EU Green Capital on January 1.

Launched in 2011 by the European Commission, the title rewards cities which have made the most progress "in improving the environment, and their high level of commitment to genuine progress".

After Ljubljana in Slovenia, Tallinn is the only other capital from a country that joined the EU in 2004 to be awarded the title.

Events will take place throughout the year and more information can be viewed here.

National election

2019 Riigikogu election. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

March 5, Nationwide

Estonia's next national election will take place at the start of March.

Read ERR News' explainer for more information.

XIII Youth Song and Dance Celebration

The 2019 Song and Dance Festival will feature even more singers and dancers than the 2017 Youth Song and Dance Festival. Source: Aurelia Minev/Siim Lõvi/ERR

June 30 - July 2, Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds

The youth festival takes place every four years and involves tens of thousands of singers and dancers.

This year's event has been named "Holy is the Land", and the dance celebration "Bridges," and will take place for the 13th time.

The tradition has been included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list and emphasizes Estonians' love for their country, language, culture, and customs.

More information can be viewed here.

Will the next chief of NATO come from Estonia?

Kaja Kallas Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

NATO elects its next general secretary this year who will replace current chief Jens Stoltenburg.

Both former President Kersti Kaljulaid and current Prime Minister Kaja Kallas are two of the names which have been floated in the media, alongside a host of others.

In an interview with Postimees last month, it was said Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu has instructed the diplomats to make a road map of Estonia's chances to seek the position.

Estonia to head Baltic Assembly

The flags of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

January 1 - December 31

Estonia takes over as the rotating head of the Baltic Assembly (BA) cooperation format in 2023.

Deputy Head of the Estonian Delegation Sven Sester said last year that Estonia has a strong will to continue building up a resilient, secure, reliable, and sustainable Baltic region.

"By joining forces, we will also have greater capability and opportunities to deal with the challenges posed by Russia's invasion, such as the economic and humanitarian crisis, energy security, disinformation and common concerns about the security of the Baltic States," he said.

Sester said it is also important to deal with the challenges in education and culture, with cultural relations and media cooperation, vocational and technical education as well as strengthening the coordination between cultural and educational institutions. 

Last year of prep for Tartu 2024

Tartu Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

January 1 - December 31

Tartu will become one of the EU's cultural capitals in 2024, so this year will be its last year of preparation.

While the first part of the "Arts of Survival" program has already been announced, more will follow this year.

Wider region: Vilnius NATO summit

Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Source: pixabay

July 11-12

The annual NATO summit will be held for the first time in Lithuania this year.

It will bring together high-level delegations from NATO allies and partners, as well as international media representatives.

The summit will focus on strengthening the Alliance's collective defense and deterrence and on increasing support for Ukraine.

It is expected that Finland and Sweden will participate in the summit as full-fledged NATO members for the first time.

Important changes in 2023

Money (Photo is illustrative). Source: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

The minimum wage will rise to €725 and the minimum hourly wage to €4.30. In total, this will be a €71 increase for those earning the minimum wage.

Compensation for the second day of sick leave has been extended until June 30.

Child, family and single-parent benefits will rise from February 1. The allowance for first and second children and single parents will rise to €80 a month, the additional large family benefit to €650 a month for families with three-six children (currently €300) and €850 for those with more than 7 (currently €400). From this year, child benefits will also be paid to the family until the youngest turns 19.

From January 1, employers and employees must ensure a safe working environment if the case of remote work. Companies must also improve the organization and provision of occupational health.

The state vaccine insurance fund, which started to encourage people to vaccinate against coronavirus, will extend to all vaccines.

Unemployment benefits will rise to a maximum of €327.05 per month.

The average pension will rise to €703 from April 1 and the income exemption threshold for pensioners to €704, making average pensions exempt from tax.

From April 1, a new victim assistance law will enter into force, which will improve the availability of assistance for victims of violence, crime or crisis incidents.  

Estonia's defense spending will rise by over €1 billion to 2.85 percent of GDP.

The research and development budget has risen to 1 percent of GDP. 


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Editor: Helen Wright, Marcus Turovski

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