Prime Minister Kaja Kallas outlined Estonia's implementation of the national development strategy "Estonia 2035", in which she gave an overview of the country's progress towards three long-term goals: a safe living environment; a responsible, innovative, and knowledge-based economy; and a smart, active, and healthy person.
Kallas told the Riigikogu on Tuesday the goals help us to keep in mind the country we want.
Speaking about a secure living environment, the prime minister said that the state cannot make discounts on national defense and security and that in the next four years, the cost of national defense will surpass 3 percent of GDP. This is in addition to the costs of hosting allies.
As regards the Estonian eastern border, the government has decided to complete the land infrastructure by the end of 2025, one year earlier than originally planned.
The country will also continue to strengthen its cyber defense capabilities.
The transition to Estonian-language education is also an important part of raising the level of security and safety, and the government will allocate an additional €27 million next year.
Alongside the government's decisions, the prime minister stressed the importance of crisis awareness for everyone.
"Although the constant talk of threats to security and various possible crises creates a climate of anxiety in society, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye at the moment, because both our national defense and our crisis preparedness depend on the awareness and willingness of every individual to contribute to them," said Kallas.
"I am glad that the Estonian people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of their role in keeping Estonia safe: According to the 2022 survey, 90% of people believe that they should play an active role in keeping themselves and their neighbourhood safe. Thank you to everyone who has already done that!"
In her speech, the prime minister also pointed out that the percentage of people who consider Estonia to be a safe country remains high at 90 percent. People's trust in the agencies responsible for internal security, the most trusted in Estonia, also remains high.
"A trustworthy state is a prerequisite for a cooperative society," stressed Kallas.
The prime minister also spoke about the importance of energy security for Estonia's security. "I can assure you that if something happens – whether as a result of malicious action or an accident – we are ready to respond."
To increase energy security, the country must also make use of the opportunities offered by the green transition, which will be given a broader framework by the climate law under development.
"A successful climate law is a shared understanding of ways to find competitive advantage in a smaller environmental footprint and to increase the added value of the economy, but also how each of us can live better and healthier lives with a clean nature," said Kallas.
Speaking about increasing the competitiveness of the Estonian economy, the prime minister highlighted research and development and innovation. Among other things, the country has launched the work of the Centre for Applied Research to provide support for development areas with high business potential.
In a report comparing the innovation performance of 132 countries, Estonia has risen to a high 16th place in the innovation performance index ranking and 9th in Europe.
"Estonia's strengths include our e-governance, exports of information and communication services, venture capital deals, and the value of unicorns as a share of GDP. In these areas, Estonia is the absolute leader, or first among all countries. Estonia's entrepreneurial culture and e-participation are also cited as strengths," said Kallas.
The prime minister also mentioned the weaknesses identified for Estonia, such as the small size of the internal market, the lack of global brands, the revenue from intellectual property transactions, and the energy supply per GDP.
"However, our improved ranking in the innovation index shows that we have made the right choices."
Speaking about Estonia's 2035 strategic goal for people, Kallas noted that the state's approach here has also been science-based.
"In our retraining and refresher training, we focus on those specializations where OSKA forecasts that labor demand and need will outstrip labor supply in the coming years. Preventive unemployment services, in turn, are targeted at people whose position in the labor market may be weaker because of low or outdated education, health problems or age," she said.
The government has approved an employment program that will allow the Unemployment Insurance Fund to provide 29 different labor market services and benefits to support people in getting employed and staying employed over the next five years. Courses and micro-degree programs of varying lengths are on offer from universities and other educational institutions and have grown exponentially in recent years.
In 2021, the national development strategy "Estonia 2035" created a framework that brings together Estonia's most important strategic goals and lines of action and links them to the financial possibilities of the state.
A benchmark of the indicators that are important for the country, showing how it is doing in achieving the targets it has set, can be found on the Statistics Estonia website: Tree of Truth
Editor: Helen Wright