Estonia’s Decade of Possibilities
In 2018, Estonia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. We have witnessed the Presidency period of Lithuania, which has earned international praise behind the scenes. Lithuania as the presiding country showed itself to be an efficient diplomat and administrator who is able to join national and Pan-European interests. The activities of President Dalia Grybauskaitė greatly contributed to it.
In 2018, Estonia will have a new president, whose role according to the Constitution of Estonia is much more modest in comparison to the role of the president of Lithuania, but the more important the good cooperation between the Estonian Members of the European Parliament, the Riigikogu and the government will be.
One of the greatest problems of the European Union is its decreasing competitiveness in comparison to the United States and China. Maybe Estonia should initiate the discussion of a new Constitution or basic treaty for the European Union during its term of presidency. But certainly we should already now start thinking of the European Union a little differently, not as just a wallet supplementing Estonia’s state budget. It is possible to combine the Pan-European and Estonian interests by dealing with the issues of competitiveness and entrepreneurship.
Several articles in this issue of Riigikogu Toimetised deal with using the European Union aid better in Estonia, so that the result would be sustainable and improve competitiveness as much as possible.
Janno Reiljan, Annika Jaansoo and Aivo Ülper write about the financial sustainability of the merger of local governments. It becomes evident that the local governments that have increased as the result of mechanical merger are not necessarily more sustainable if the rules of financing remain unchanged.
Two peer-reviewed articles on sustainability also deserve attention. The first of them is written by Külliki Tafel-Viia, Erik Terk, Silja Lassur and Andres Viia, and discusses the possibilities of creative economy. The concept of creative economy or creative industries, which was coined in 1997 in Great Britain, is defined as an economic sector which is based on individual creativity, skill and talent, and which has a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.
The second peer-reviewed article deals with entrepreneurship. Kadri Paes, Mervi Raudsaar and Tõnis Mets prove on the basis of an international study that the people of Estonia are more enterprising than the European average. Thus Estonia’s starting position is quite advantageous for using the opening economic possibilities, at the same time it is reasonable or even smart to consider specialising when thinking globally and acting locally.
Erkki Karo, Rainer Kattel, Veiko Lember, Kadri Ukrainski, Hanna Kanep and Urmas Varblane write about smart specialisation. They open up the conception that was created for discussing the gap of the productivity of labour force between the European Union and the USA and the states of South-East Asia, which became apparent in the 1990s. The conception recommends “enterprising discoveries” and focusing on general purpose technologies, like nanotechnology and information technology, for specialisation.
The key to the development of Estonia in the coming decades may be hidden in smart specialisation combined with the possibilities offered by the European Union. As Jaak Vilo writes: “We know from the example of other countries, successful entrepreneurs and investors, innovation centres and regions (Silicon Valley) that new entrepreneurship is the most successful when excellent education, research, design and entrepreneurship meet.” But at the same time we should never underestimate local initiative, which Külli Eichenbaum deals with in her article, using Old Võromaa as an example. In conclusion: the smallness of Estonia, which enables us to act quickly, may once again prove useful – if there is consensus in matters of importance.
The journal Riigikogu Toimetised wants to continue providing such a forum of discussion where the possible consensus can be shaped. On these pages, the political and scientific thought that have the common aim of finding the best means and strategies for achieving the constitutional objective of the state of Estonia can meet without the pressures of daily politics and the impracticality that is sometimes characteristic of science.