Estonia

   

Executive Capacity

#12
Key Findings
With policy-development reforms bearing fruit, Estonia scores well in international comparison (rank 12) in the area of executive capacity. Its score in this area has improved by 0.3 points relative to its 2014 level.

A variety of strategy-development organs are improving long-range planning capacities. Proposals are discussed in the coalition council and in cabinet meetings, with formal and informal interministerial coordination playing an important role. Policymaking and policy monitoring are bolstered by highly advanced digital tools.

Though the RIA framework is well developed, practical implementation has been very slow. Stakeholders are consulted during policy preparation, but a corporatist tendency giving likely policy supporters precedence is emerging. Ministers in coalition governments sometimes make statements out of sync with the government’s general line.

The government has proved effective at implementing both minor and major goals, with progress tracked on a user-friendly website. A major municipal-merger reform, which included the abolition of county governments, has made funding more efficient and enhanced local autonomy. The aim is to improve the quality of public services throughout the country.

Strategic Capacity

#9

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
The supporting structures of the government in Estonia are mainly located in the line ministries. The Government Office (GO) is quite limited in this respect, though there is a Strategy Unit within the GO, which mainly has a consulting function. Its main tasks are to support the composition of strategic-development plans, to coordinate and draw up the government’s action plan, and monitor the implementation of the above-mentioned policy documents. The Strategy Unit employs 11 staff. Since 2014, an ambitious program to improve the quality of policymaking has funded various activities (e.g., impact assessments, future scenario, legal analysis and engagement projects). The human capacity of the Strategy Unit has been enhanced by various expert groups and task forces established within this ambitious program.

In addition to the Strategy Unit, there is also a Prime Minister’s Bureau, comprised of experts in various policy areas who advise the prime minister. Different from the Strategy Unit, this body is closely linked to the prime minister’s political party and its members change with each new prime minister.

In 2017, a Foresight Center was established by the parliament to carry out long-term social and economic analyses, and draft development scenarios. The center consults parliamentary committees, but has only an implicit linkage to the executive.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
7
The extent and impact of academic consultation is framed by the overall pattern of government decision-making. Limited strategic capacity in the center and a tendency to pass policy-formulation initiatives to the line ministries makes the overall picture fragmented. Final reports of the research projects are made publicly available on the websites of the governmental institutions that requested the study. However, 25% of these studies are not made public, and the remaining ones are difficult to find due to the varying web architecture maintained by the ministries and agencies. The majority of the studies (63%) were commissioned simply to obtain overviews of problems. The use of studies for policy decision-making purposes was clearly proven in the case of 46% of those reviewed.

Other forms of non-governmental expert consultations (e.g., roundtable discussions and workshops) are rather widespread. Preparation of the long-term “Estonia 2035” strategy started with a seminar in which executives, experts and opinion leaders from more than 130 public, private and third sector organizations discussed the objectives and framework of the strategy.

Citations:
National Audit Office (2015). Activities of the state in commissioning studies. http://www.riigikontroll.ee/tabid/206/Audit/2345/Area/1/language/et-EE/Default.aspx (accessed 02.10.2015)

Interministerial Coordination

#18

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
5
The GO and prime minister’s support structures primarily provide consulting services, monitor governmental processes and provide technical (judicial) expertise. There is no capacity to perform substantial evaluation of line-ministry proposals. The 2015 OECD report recommends that the government sharpens it focus and concentrates, at maximum, on five policy priorities. The current government of Ratas has defined four priorities in the “Basic Principles of the Government Coalition” for the 2016 – 2019 period. This step was not, however, accompanied by another, also recommended by the OECD: to give the GO more discretion in (re)allocating organizational, financial and human resources for the implementation of key priorities.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
7
Two different forms exist to communicate line ministries’ proposals to the GO. Firstly, all policy initiatives are discussed in coalition council. Second, the cabinet informally examines all substantial issues at its weekly meetings. No binding decisions are made in the meetings, the main function being to exchange information and to prepare for formal government sessions.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
2
Estonia does not have a committee structure within government, or any ministerial committee. Ministers informally discuss their proposals and any other pending issues at weekly consultative cabinet meetings. No formal voting or any other selection procedure is applied to issues discussed in consultative meetings. The creation of cabinet committees was proposed by government in March 2017. However, an amendment to the Act on National Government, which was passed in fall 2018, has not improved strategic coordination within the cabinet.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
10
Formal procedures of coordinating policy proposals are set in the rules of the national government. According to it, all relevant ministries must be consulted and involved in a consensus-building process before an amendment or policy proposal can be brought to the government. In addition to this formal procedure, senior civil servants from the various ministries consult and inform each other about coming proposals; deputy secretaries general are key persons in this informal consultation process.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
7
Informal coordination has played an important role in ensuring efficient policymaking. In addition to contacts between high-ranking civil servants in ministries, the coalition committee and governing bodies of political parties have been key players in this regard. Getting support from coalition partners is generally the first step in successfully passing legislation.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
10
The Estonian government has pioneered a large-scale use of information technologies. An Information System for Legal Drafts (Eelnõude infosüsteem, EIS) is used to facilitate interministerial coordination and public consultations online. EIS allows users to search documents currently under consideration, participate in public consultations and submit comments on draft bills. Draft bills are submitted to the government and parliament via EIS.
Policymaking and policy monitoring are further supported by an interoperable data exchange platform X-Road, an integrated system that facilitates the exchange of data between different organizations and information systems. Over 900 enterprises and organizations use X-Road daily. X-Road is also the first data exchange platform in the world that allows data to be exchanged between countries automatically. Since June 2017, an automatic data exchange capability has been established between Estonia and Finland.

Evidence-based Instruments

#13

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
The development and monitoring of regulatory impact assessments (RIA) is shared between the Ministry of Justice and the GO’s Strategy Unit, with the latter taking a leading role with regard to EU-related issues during the 2014 – 2020 period. Formal RIA procedures are well established, with all relevant normative acts, manuals and guidelines accessible on a dedicated website.

Since 2014, RIA has been mandatory for all categories of legal acts. A major RIA development program was initiated in 2014 with help from the EU structural assistance funds. The program has included various training, development and implementation measures focused on RIA procedures. The number of assessments performed is expected to increase 10-fold by 2020. The full impact of the program on the overall RIA system remains to be seen.

Citations:
OECD (2017). “Regulatory Impact Assessment,” Government at a Glance. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/gov_glance-2017-56-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/gov_glance-2017-56-en (accessed 17.12.2018)

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
5
Legal regulations established by governmental decree (2012) require involvement by relevant interest groups and public consultations in the lawmaking process. It must be formally documented which interest groups have been involved, what their proposals have been and to what extent the proposals have been taken into account. All this information is publicly available in the explanatory paper accompanying the draft law. Alongside these formal requirements, involving stakeholders and hearing their opinions has become a common practice. However, stakeholder involvement needs to be improved. RIA analyses are not communicated to the public, and only those partners closely participating in the process are sufficiently informed. RIA results are not subject to regular evaluations by an independent body, and far more stress is put on the further elaboration of impact-assessment methods than on making use of results to create better policies.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
6
The dimension of sustainability is included in the methodological guidelines for RIA. The guidelines demand an assessment of the reviewed policy’s impact over the short, medium and long term. However, sustainability concerns are given a marginal role in the impact assessment process overall. The existing set of indicators is not explicitly linked to the sustainability check.

Estonia has a national long-term (30-year) sustainability strategy, “Sustainable Estonia 21,” which – together with the majority of national strategies – will end in 2020. In spring 2018, the Estonian government began preparations for the next long-term strategy, “Estonia 2035,” which aims to define an integrated vision for the country’s balanced and sustainable development. The statements published so far highlight the importance of aligning national goals with global trends, but make no explicit reference to the SDGs.

Citations:
Summary of the Analysis of the Estonian Sustainable Development Strategy “Sustainable Estonia 21”. https://riigikantselei.ee/sites/default/files/content-editors/Failid/SA_eesti/summary_of_se21_analysis_eng.pdf (accessed 17 December 2017).

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
7
The Strategy Unit of the Government Office is responsible for the quality of policymaking, including the evaluation of policy effectiveness and development of a knowledge base for future reforms. For 2014 – 2020, EU Social Fund resources have been allocated for these activities, which has resulted in an increased number of studies of ex post and ex ante policy impact analyses. Nevertheless, the overall framework remains a work in progress, as the evaluations do not cover all significant policies and are not systematically used for the development of new policies. Since the Government Office has limited analytic capacity, the studies are produced by external national and international research teams.

Societal Consultation

#10

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
7
Consultations with societal actors are regulated by government guidelines contained in the Good Engagement Practices (GEP) document, approved in 2011. Although not legally binding, it prescribes in detail procedures for engaging social stakeholders in the policymaking process. The GEP includes eight recommended principles, which place importance on the clarity of goals, openness of relationships, and dedication to goals. Once a year, the Government Office presents an overview of the GEP’s implementation to the government. All ministries employ an engagement coordinator who assists interested citizens and advocacy groups.

Existing regulations and established practices render it almost impossible to avoid interest groups’ involvement in the policymaking process. The main focus is on consultations during the preparatory phase, when a broad range of societal actors is typically involved. However, at later stages, only those advocacy organizations tending to be supportive of the proposed policy are invited to the table. Thus, corporatist tendencies are becoming apparent that are not entirely in accordance with GEP principles. Furthermore, engagement practices have not yet been extended to the policy-implementation or policy-evaluation phases.

Policy Communication

#18

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
6
Government ministries have remarkable power and autonomy. Ministers from different political parties sometimes make statements that are not in line with the general position of the government or not properly discussed by all coalition partners. For example, the idea of moving toward a universal health care system was proposed by the minister of health and labor in 2017. Similarly, at the end of 2018, the minister of foreign affairs publicly supported the U.N. Global Migration Pact, which led another coalition partner to publicly disagree with the minister.

Implementation

#11

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
8
The Basic Principles of the Government Coalition for the period 2016 – 2019 stipulate four priorities: to safeguard and increase national security, to bring Estonia out of economic stagnation, to increase public welfare and cohesion, and to increase the population. The Government Action Plan 2016 – 2019 and a user-friendly overview of the major accomplishments in each policy area are published on the government website. By the end of 2017, the government had accomplished 83% of the planned tasks. Among them was an ambitious administrative reform that reduced the number of municipalities from 213 to 79 and increased the median number of inhabitants per municipality from 1,887 to 7,739 people – a task that several previous coalitions had failed to accomplish.

As a joint effort between the think tank Praxis and Estonian Employers’ Confederation, an independent project Riigireformi Radar (Governance Reform Radar) was launched in 2016 for monitoring the administration’s performance in making the government more efficient. An expert panel assesses the government’s performance every three months along five dimensions. Overall, the evaluation had been critical of the pace of administrative reform. However, the panel’s activities seem to have been put on hold and the latest evaluation of administrative reform (the amalgamation of municipalities) dates back to March 2018. Their activities and the most personnel have been funneled into a Governance Reform Foundation (Riigireformi SA), a think tank established in May 2018 to generate and lobby for proposals rather than monitor government.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
9
Estonia typically has coalition governments; reaching an agreement on priorities and goals of the future government is the core issue of the cabinet-formation process. After a coalition cabinet is sworn in, it generally acts in accordance with the government program and rules of procedure signed by all coalition partners. The process of program implementation is coordinated by the coalition committee, comprised of a representative of each coalition partner. Compared to some previous governments, the sitting coalition places less emphasis on the coalition committee, instead discussing most issues openly at cabinet meetings. This can be regarded as evidence of general concord within the government, which facilitates implementation of the government program. Issues following the signing of the coalition agreement can cause more disagreements, especially as formal resolution mechanisms have not been fully developed. For example, the coalition partners failed to agree a position on the U.N. Global Compact for Migration at the end of 2018.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
5
The Prime Minister’s Office has a small staff that performs mainly supportive and technical tasks. Thus, the capacity to monitor the line ministries’ activities from the core executive is limited. Even though the prime minister has little power over ministers, they rarely challenge the government program. Still, sometimes line ministers break with consensus, which results in bilateral talks with the prime minister.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
8
Estonian government is horizontally decentralized. This means that besides 11 ministries, there are 25 executive agencies and several foundations established by the government. Foundations have specific policy objectives, often managing implementation of the EU structural funds in Estonia. Foundations are led by a counsellor and appointed by a minister. Agencies implement policies within the broader policy area and are accountable to the relevant ministry. Ministers appoint agency directors. These organizational arrangements enable ministries to monitor the activities of executive agencies. However, agencies have grown substantially both in terms of staff and task volume; this may ultimately produce negative effects such as a lack of coordination between the ministry and agency, or misuse of administrative power by executive-agency CEOs. In the framework of state governance, the government has proposed merging the various implementing agencies into one agency. Yet, no progress on this reform has been achieved so far.

At the beginning of 2018, county governments – the regional arm of the executive branch – were abolished. Their responsibilities have been divided between central government agencies and municipalities. More direct control through the former could enhance monitoring, while giving more powers to the municipalities (and their consortia) could create additional challenges.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
Estonian local governments are heavily dependent on financial resources from the central budget as local tax revenue is negligible. Central government defines 83% of municipal revenues and, although funds are allocated on a universal basis, the system produces large inequalities in the financial capacity of municipalities. The National Audit Office (NAO) found that, although the government plans to increase local government financing by 2020, simply giving local governments more money will not solve the challenges faced by poorer local governments. Since the publication of the NAO report at the end of 2017, positive changes have occurred. The funds allocated by the central government to the municipalities increased by 5% and changes to the financing model are under way. Also, the merger of municipalities in 2017 should create more efficient economies of scale.

Citations:
Financing local authorities. National Audit Office 2017. https://www.riigikontroll.ee/Suhtedavalikkusega/Pressiteated/tabid/168/ItemId/955/amid/557/language/en-US/Default.aspx (accessed 26.10.2018)

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
6
According to the Estonian constitution, local self-governments can independently decide on all local issues. The rights and responsibilities of local governments are stipulated in detail in the Local Government Organization Act. In 2018, former (smaller) municipalities with a median population of 1,900 were merged into larger units with a median population of 7,700. The aim of the reform was to enhance local governance capacity and to improve the quality of public services throughout the country. Following the reform, the scope of implementation autonomy has extended. Today, local governments can decide on regional public transport arrangements. Previously, these arrangements had been the task of the former county governments, which had represented the central government and were abolished at the beginning of 2018.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
5
Several public services in Estonia are provided at the local level, although the quantity and quality of services varies greatly relative to the size and capacity of municipalities. The administrative-territorial reform (2017), which merged municipalities into larger units, aims to offer residents better services, and hire more competent employees and officials. The focus is on ensuring that a basic universal list of services is available in each municipality and that the quality of services is more closely monitored. Yet, the process is at an initial stage and national standards for municipal public services are lacking.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
8
Regulations are generally enforced in an impartial way without discriminating between the political and social status of organizations and enterprises. Some non-governmental foundations – which operate on a non-profit and non-political basis, and act in the public interest – may be tax-exempt. The list of income tax exempt foundations is issued annually by the Tax and Customs Board in accordance with the Income Tax Act.

Equal enforcement applies also for businesses in terms of complying with tax obligations, technical and sanitary standards. However, such strict enforcement of regulations is sometimes criticized for penalizing SMEs (e.g., small shops, tourist farms and food providers), which struggle to meet the government’s high standards.

Adaptability

#10

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
9
The most important supranational organization affecting domestic policies is the European Union. After consultations with the parliament and advocacy groups, the government has typically adopted a framing-policy document (e.g., Estonian EU Policy 2015 – 2019). Generally, the formation and implementation of national EU policy is the responsibility of the government. An interministerial Coordination Council for EU Affairs is tasked with facilitating coordination of these national efforts. The Coordination Council plans and monitors the initiation and implementation of all EU-related policy activities. Each ministry bears the responsibility for developing draft legislation and enforcing government priorities in its domain.

The Secretariat for EU Affairs within the GO provides administrative and legal support in preparing EU-related activities. The secretariat advises the prime minister on EU matters (including preparations for European Council meetings), manages EU affairs across all government bodies, and offers guidelines for permanent representations. The parliament’s European Union Affairs Committee issues political positions on draft EU legislation, provides political opinions and oversees the activities of the government as it implements EU policies.

Even though these structures are well-developed, due to the small size of the country, Estonia cannot avoid being a rule-taker in areas of more marginal national relevance.

Cooperation with international organizations (e.g., WTO, OECD and NATO) is the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
6
Engagement in international development has traditionally been the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An interministerial coordination group of cabinet ministers coordinates foreign policy issues.

Besides this basic structure, some line ministries increasingly emphasize international coordination, depending on the changing global security and migration situation. The Ministry of Interior, responsible for migration and asylum affairs, has actively participated in recent EU efforts to reduce illegal migration across the Mediterranean Sea. Domestically, the Ministry of Interior increasingly cooperates with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Tax and Custom Board to tackle illegal (immigrant) labor issues. This domestic cooperation is legally framed by the amendments of the Act on Aliens (2018) and the National Action Plan on Prevention of Illegal Labor.

In 2018, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CDCE), which was established on the initiative of Estonia, celebrated its 10th anniversary. The CDCE is a multinational and interdisciplinary hub of cyber-defense expertise, which promotes cyber-defense education and R&D, as well as best practices and consultation. Currently, 28 countries participate in the CDCE, which is based in Tallinn.

Organizational Reform

#22

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
6
Based on the amount of amended or adopted regulations that deal with institutional arrangements, the government’s monitoring activities certainly exist and inform policymaking. Since March 2014, the Act on National Government has furnished the ministerial nomination processes with a new flexibility; it no longer lists ministers, but only sets a maximum number for the government as a whole. This enables nominations to better reflect current needs. However, it is difficult to estimate how systematic and consolidated the government’s self-monitoring activities truly are.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
Top politicians and executive officials widely understand the problem of fragmented policymaking as it was highlighted in the OECD Governance Report. Yet, the government’s response to the OECD’s call to move “toward a single government approach” has been mostly rhetorical. Several think tanks (e.g., employers’ associations, Governance Reform Radar and Governance Reform Foundation) and a new party (i.e., Estonia 200) have strongly criticized the government for merely fine-tuning, instead of radically re-evaluating and reforming, the existing institutional arrangements.
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