A bill submitted by the parliamentary group of Estonia's Social Democratic Party (SDE) seeking to amend the Research and Development Organisation Act has passed its first reading in the Riigikogu.
The objective of the bill is to put into law that one percent of GDP be allocated in the state budget for research and development.
"Teachers' salaries, higher education and research, I'd say, are investments in the future. And similarly to defense spending, with regard to which we have all agreed that it should be established by legislation, contributing to science, too, merits a special mention in the law by allocating to it one percent of the gross domestic product from 2022," member of SDE Katri Raik said.
The initiators of the bill said that if Estonia lags behind when it comes to R&D financing, its march towards a more knowledge-intensive economy is hindered. The labor market for researchers is international and the limited financing of research and development will force Estonian researchers to migrate to states where there is more funding.
The bill aims at amending the Research and Development Organisation Act so R&D financing will reach one percent of GDP by 2022.
"We want to be a part of the Nordics, we want to be a rich country. Unless we invest in teachers, higher education and research today, we will never achieve it. The financing of education and research is a matter of setting priorities. The present coalition sadly is not a Smart Coalition," Raik said in a press release.
On Dec. 19, 2018, an agreement aimed at ensuring the development of research and innovation in Estonia was signed in Kadriorg by leaders of Estonian political parties and representatives of research institutions, researchers, and largest entrepreneurship organizations.
According to the agreement, the parties that signed it support increasing the public sector funding of research and development and innovation to one percent of GDP and promise to maintain it at least on the same level.
However, the current coalition said after the election in March it would not be possible to increase spending to one percent of GDP.
The budget for 2020 set spending at 0.74% for R&D funding, an increase from 0.71% this year. Universities, in particular, say this is not enough money.
Editor: Helen Wright