The current state of the EU related education in Estonia: the institutions and the experts

Mait Talts, Tarmo Tuisk

The Institute for European Studies

Tallinn, Estonia


European integration has been declared one of Estonia's main foreign political priorities. The process of adoption of the EU's acquis communautaire demands highly educated civil servants that have the proper knowledge of the current EU affairs. Such personnel is not only required for the senior, but also for the junior and the mid-level civil servants posts. At the same time there is a process of change of generation underway among the civil servants, which has obliged the universities to change their curricula, including also the subjects related to the recognition and implementation of the acquis communautaire.

Well trained civil servants are an essential factor in the process of Estonia’s preparation for EU membership. Decisive role of the success in Estonia's accession negotiations lies with the bureaucrats who are implementing the process. Several sociological surveys confirm that Estonian elite is more pro-EU compared to the public opinion and therefore elite can contribute to the formation of more positive attitude towards the EU.

The preparation of future in-service supplementary education programmes should begin with the overview of the current situation in the field of EU related educational and training activities in Estonia. An other important precondition for the development of further activities is necessity to reveal the wide range of local specialists, the people who could be the experts of some particular EU-related domain.

It is rather surprising, but there has been no serious survey conducted yet concerning the educational programmes provided by the Estonian institutions of higher education and professional in-service training. The only attempt to give an overview of these problems is the survey organised by the Dutch T.M.C. Asser Institute covering all of the EU’s Central and Eastern European candidate countries. Because of the large scope of that project the chapter concerning Estonia is quite superficial and contains even some misunderstandings.

This study tries to give at least a better overview of EU related education in Estonia by exposing both the institutions that offer some kind of education and/or training related to EU issues and the experts in this field in the form of a database and giving a general evaluation of the situation. As the data of current survey was gathered from December 1998 to January 1999, the databases reflect the situation of Estonia’s "educational market" of that particular time. There are some indications that this situation will change in the nearest future, especially concerning the courses and programmes related to European issues. In this article we try to give an analysis of the situation to reveal the shortcomings in this field and the areas not sufficiently covered by the specialists. Considering the future needs we also tried to bring to light the people that possess some kind of knowledge in some specific EU related area and who are also willing to hold lectures to share this knowledge with other people involved in the process of European integration.

The empirical data collected during the survey was published by the Office of European Integration in Estonia as an independent publication. The same kind of publications have been published in different countries, e.g. in Finland before the country joined EU.

  1. Educational institutions

1.1 Higher educational institutions

The educational system is already by its nature quite rigid and conservative. Some analysts have expressed even the views according to which the educational system is the last stronghold of socialism in the post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, some of its sectors develop faster then others and EU-related sector is one of the most rapidly growing.

First of all, we have to mention that there are no rigid standards concerning public administration and civil service in EU countries. The same principle appeals to the requirements on higher education. It is hard to implement some kind of standards or/and quality regulations on the educational programmes of the educational institutions. Though the curricula of Estonian universities must be approved by the Ministry of Education, the institutions involved in higher education (specially private universities) have quite large freedom shaping their educational programmes. Unfortunately this brings along the differences in the level of education, including the EU studies.

At present there are 6 state universities and 22 other (mainly private) higher educational institutions in Estonia. According to our data EU related programmes are taught in 4 state universities. The faculties and departments of these universities where the educational programmes concerning the European Union exist at present are the following:

* University of Tartu: the Faculties of Economics, Social Sciences (Departments of Public Administration and Political Science) and in the Faculty of Law, all under the under the auspices of the Euro Faculty

* Estonian Agricultural University: Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; Faculty of Forestry

* Tallinn University of Educational Sciences (known also as Tallinn Pedagogical University): Faculty of Social Sciences (Departments of Political Sciences, Information Sciences and Social Work)

* Tallinn Technical University: Faculty of Social and Humanitarian Sciences; Faculty of Economics

Some courses or study programmes related to the issues of the European Union are taught also in 13 other higher educational institutions. The database includes exact data of the following private higher educational institutions:

* Audentes Business College

* Estonian-American Business College

* Estonian Business School

* European Integration Institute; Concordia International University Estonia

* Euro University

* Higher School "Studium Premium"

* Institute of Policy and Economic Law

* Mainor School of Economics

* Sillamäe Institute of Economics and Management

According secondary data the courses concerning the European Union are also taught at Veritas Private University for Social Sciences, as well as at the International University of Social Sciences "LEX", at Tallinn Baccalaureate Private College and at the Institute of Law (Tallinn), but at the present we have not received exact data about their EU related programmes.

The role of EU knowledge is growing rapidly in Estonia. Even those educational institutions that do not have programmes or courses directly related to EU matters at present (like the Estonian Institute of Humanities) foresee the possibility and the need for including them in the near future. Some of the projects will be implemented in the nearest future. For example, in February 1999 the departments of German and Romance languages of the University of Tartu began with new EU Conference Interpreters training courses. The Forestry Faculty of the Estonian Agricultural University also has a concrete plan to begin with a special course dedicated to EU environmental policy from the beginning of the next academic year.

At present there are two main centres in Estonia which provide high level academic programmes concerning European Union issues – The Euro Faculty at the University of Tartu and the European Integration Institute at the Concordia International University Estonia in Tallinn. The Euro Faculty was formed within the framework of the TEMPUS programme in 1992. The main purpose of the ‘Euro Faculty’ programme, which has played an important role in the development of the higher education in all three Baltic states, was to enable Western professors to stay at the University of Tartu. These Western specialists retrained the existing staff of economists and social scientists of the University of Tartu and imparted their knowledge to the younger staff members, many of whom had been graduated from the University during the 1990ies. In the nearest future this younger generation of university teachers will be able to take over the responsibilities of the foreign professors. These representatives of the younger generation will teach the students after the Euro Faculty project has accomplished its mission.

The process of establishing the European College is underway in the University of Tartu. The European College is planned to take the place of the Euro Faculty after the Euro Faculty project has fulfilled its task. Masters level study programme similar to the programme of the Master of European Studies in Western universities will be developed within the framework of the European College. The present programme of the Euro Faculty covers all the main areas of EU policies, administration, economics and legislation quite well. The basic course of the Euro Faculty for the 1998 autumn semester contained the following topics:

EU history, institutions and policies (32 hours)

EU common foreign and security policy (16 hours)

EMU (30 hours)

EU budget policy (8 hours)

CAP (32 hours)

EU competition policy (10 hours)

The basics of EU (32 hours)

EU common market (10 hours)

EU institutions (16 hours)

EU policies (32 hours)

EU regional policy (16 hours)

EU documentation and document management (34 hours)

Regional development, planning and policies in Europe and in the European

Union (40 hours)

European Community Law: the institutions and the legislative process (22 hours)

Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contracts (16-18 hours)

European administrative law (20 hours)

EU environmental law (20 hours)

European laws of labour and social care (24 hours)

Comparative law (20 hours)

Legal protection of EU financial interests (8 hours)

Legal co-operation between EU countries (4 hours)

Some of the Estonian higher educational institutions use the services of foreign lecturers at the present time (i.e. the Estonian School of Diplomacy, Audentes Business School). There are even some foreign lecturers who have been working in Estonia for the longer term and who are now able to hold lectures in Estonian (e.g. Marie-Laurence Buisson who lectures at Tallinn Technical University and at Audentes Business School, Mikko Lagerspetz, the Rector of Estonian Institute of Humanities and Jussi Jauhiainen, a lecturer of the University of Tartu).

The other centre that provides an academic programme of European issues is the European Integration Institute at the Concordia International University Estonia (established in 1997). This educational unit concentrates mainly on juridical issues of the Union. The third institution that lays claim on its possible status as a future centre of "European education" is Euro University, a private educational institution established in 1997. These institutions have a too short history, which makes it difficult to estimate their future, but at least the European Integration Institute of the Concordia International University has good chances to becoming a competitor to the Euro Faculty of the University of Tartu.

Furthermore, it seems that Estonia’s intelligentsia has recently developed a (new) peculiarity – a so-called "pragmatism in promoting their ideas." This can be seen also in the field of EU-related issues. For example the European Integration Institute within Concordia University was established by a group of politicians from the Reformist Party. There are also other circles that have formed their own institutions (i.e. Euro University). However, as a rule this "bias" does not have a serious influence on the level of education.

There is a problem with the level of education in the most of the "newly emerged" higher educational establishments. Many of these "universities" are designed to grant jobs for the old professors and the other staff members of the former state universities who have lost their jobs during the structural reforms. For example, quite revealing is the fact that during the current survey some of these universities refused to give information about their programmes, claiming that it would take a couple of months (!) to complete the questionnaires about their own educational programmes.

The official attitude of state institutions towards the private universities is also quite indistinct. There are only two private higher education institutions (Estonian Business School and Concordia International University Estonia) whose curricula are recognized by the Ministry of Education. The others are as the precise expression goes: "not in general officially recognized". At the same time the accreditation is not compulsory for the private higher educational institutions.

The above mentioned category of universities are obliged to "prove" themselves and very often they try of raise the level of education by offering part time jobs to the professors of other (mainly state) universities. The situation where one lecturer holds lectures in 3-4 different higher educational institutions is quite common at the present in Estonia. Some of the people involved in higher education (i.e. the rector of Tallinn University of Educational Sciences Prof. Mait Arvisto) consider this phenomenon the case of serious misuse of the educational resources. The fear has been also expressed that some of these private universities will close their doors in the near future, some of them probably merging into larger institutions as it was the case with Estonian banks. To avoid the negative consequences of this kind of development the Institute of Politics and Economic Law together with Mainor School of Economics and Veritas Private University for Social Sciences have made a special agreement. The agreement states that if something happens to one of those universities the other two will take its students under their custody.

Many of these newly emerged private universities are oriented towards practical economic and juridical matters. Some of these private universities have quite a practical approach in EU issues; i.e. the EU related topics are taught as a sub-subject within the programme of business management (as is the case of the Estonian-American Business College or the Institute of Economics and Management). The private universities themselves see the future being tied to a possible financial aid from the Estonian government and/or EU circles, because academic fees alone are quite a limited financial base for the private universities.

All universities provide EU courses at the bachelor level, state universities also at the MA (University of Tartu, Tallinn Technical University, and Tallinn University of Educational Sciences) and Ph.D. level (University of Tartu, Tallinn Technical University). Only some private universities like the Estonian Business College, the Institute of Law and Concordia International University offer also master degree post-graduate studies.

As already mentioned the study programmes of the University of Tartu and the Concordia International University cover EU related issues better, but at the same time the other universities focus in some cases on the more specific areas only. For example the EU social policy is taught as a special course only at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tallinn University of Educational Sciences. For the personal reasons the Euro University has the courses on environmental matters, which conceivably also deal with EU-related environmental requirements.

There are no university courses focusing on the very specific issues like the use of EU structural foundations while the institutions specialising in in-service supplementary training provide such courses. This problem should not be so serious as our survey has indicated that the universities should easily be able to expand their programmes by recruiting outside academia.

Estonian universities and other higher educational institutions are mainly concentrated in Tallinn or Tartu, but there are some private universities in other towns, like in Sillamäe – Institute of Economics and Management. This institute sees one of its future goals as the "transmission of EU thinking to a specific Russian-speaking circle". In addition to this there are other ways to promote EU education among Russian students. For example, the British and Norwegian embassies on the one hand and the Council of Europe in the co-operation with the Open Estonia Foundation supports the Estonian language programmes for Russian students taking courses in public administration at the Tallinn University of Educational Sciences. In the near future there are plans to introduce Russian language courses in public administration. Thus special attention is also given to the educational needs of the Russian minority.




1.2 In-service training

The system of Estonian civil servants supplementary in-service training has received some critics from the behalf of the people responsible for educational programmes. The level of co-operation and co-ordination between the institutions is insufficient as well as the connection between the proposed studies and the practical experience of those teaching the public administration.

There are two main target groups of supplementary professional training: civil servants and local government leaders and officials. Special attention is paid to both of the groups in Estonia. According to our data the institutions specializing in supplementary education and offering some European Union related in-service training are the following:

* The Centre for Supplementary Education at Tallinn Technical University

* ESKO Training and Counseling

* Estonian Citizenship and Migration Board

* Estonian Customs Board

* Estonian Institute of Public Administration

* Estonian Law Centre Foundation

* Estonian School of Diplomacy

* Ministry of Justice

* Studium-S

In-service training of civil servants is mainly organised through the Estonian Institute of Public Administration, but there are also some private companies successfully involved in this process (i.e. ESKO Training and Counseling and Studium-S). The Estonian School of Diplomacy, which has been operating as an independent institution from August 1998, has a special role in providing high level training for the high ranking civil servants. The Estonian Law Centre offers supplementary training for the large number of people involved in the field of law. Some ministries (i.e. the Ministry of Justice) organise high level in-service training for their own employees using foreign lecturers and offer scholarships for Estonian specialists for their training in EU countries.

The main institution for supplementary training of civil servants is the Estonian Institute of Public Administration. The institute operates under the State Chancellery of the Republic of Estonia. The curriculum for 1998 contained the following topics: EU history; EU institutions and the decision-making process; EU Law; EU three pillars; the EU internal market; Four basic freedoms and competition rules; EU policies; EU competence and the subsidiarity principle; Regional policy; Structural foundations; Economic and monetary union; EU-Estonian relations; Estonian European integration. The courses about the EU information system, co-operation and aid programmes are also lectured and the practical training how to carry out negotiations is also an essential part of curriculum.

Many universities (University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Educational Sciences etc.) have plans to provide complementary in-service training for civil servants. These programmes will be provided within the framework of the Open University programme according to the concept of life long learning. These courses are meant chiefly for the employees of local governments. Tallinn Technical University even has a special Centre for Supplementary Education. We can say that there is a change of generation currently underway in Estonia. During the last five years a new generation of younger economists, lawyers, social scientists and civil servants, who received their education partially abroad and also completely abroad, have emerged in Estonia. There are a number of young as yet quite unknown yet newcomer specialists among them. One of the purposes of this survey was to reveal these newcomers.

One of the problems of the supplementary professional training for civil servants is the situation where the people who train the civil servants on the matters related to the issues of public administration have in most cases a only theoretical background, i.e. they do not have enough practical experience in public administration. The present courses have been too short (mostly a couple of days) to be educationally "profitable".

Like universities the institutions giving supplementary in-service training are mainly in Tallinn or Tartu. In the nearest future the Estonian Institute of Public Administration is also going to open its centre for in-service training in Ida-Virumaa County. This indicates that special attention is being paid to the people of specific region of the Northeast. There are some indications that this situation is going to change and the EU's policy of "decentralisation" of the training process will be implemented in the nearest future. Recently EU information centres were opened in some Estonian counties (such as Rapla, Lääne and Ida-Virumaa). In 1995 a special Eurohouse was established in Kuressaare. Eurohouse is a co-ordination centre for EU co-operation programmes, EU information and training.


1.3 International co-operation

The EU has supported mainly the state universities (as is the case with Tallinn Technical and Pedagogical Universities and the University of Tartu) and other educational institutions serving the interests of the Estonian state (i.e. the Estonian School of Diplomacy receiving aid from the European Commission and British Know-how Foundation). As previously mentioned the 'Euro Faculty' project at the University of Tartu is financed by the TEMPUS programme. The administration of the University of Tartu plans to create EU financed Jean Monnet Chair at the European College and/or the Faculty of Law. The final decision on the mentioned issue will be made in the near future.

Other state universities have co-operation partners in different EU member states. The Department of Political Science at the Tallinn University of Educational Sciences has working contacts with the Danish FEU support programme and the Department of Information Sciences of the same university co-operates with Bath University (UK) and Lyngby Business School in developing a new distance education programme on EU legislation. The same kind of programme for distance education, which focuses on EU institutions, will be developed by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tartu. The Estonian Institute of Public Administration has co-operation with the German C. Duisburg Society.

There seem to be some cases when the foreign support has been not quite reasonably used. For example in the above mentioned case of the development of a distance learning programme the educational texts will be written by Lithuanian specialists in Lithuanian. Then these texts will be translated into English and after that from English into Estonian at the same time when there are excellent English textbooks on EU legislation. Afterwards the texts will be displayed on Internet for distance learning. The capacity of Internet and new information technology is not sufficiently used in the dissemination of EU related educational materials. The Department of Informational Sciences of Tallinn University of Educational Sciences tries to be a pioneer in this field launching some pilot projects for the future development.

Estonian private universities receive no financial support from the EU at present. Some of these universities (i.e. Audentes Business College) have expressed their willingness to co-operate with European institutions in order to get financial assistance and/or commissions from the EU. In 1997 the Estonian Foundation of EU Educational and Scientific Programmes Archimedes was founded, which tries to offer every kind of support with its subprogrammes. The capacity of this foundation is obviously insufficiently used for the implementation of new EU related programmes.


2. Experts

2.1 The problems

The compiling of the database of Estonian experts considering themselves specialists in some particular EU related field had a practical purpose. We did not take the responsibility of evaluating the competence of the particular specialists in the fields they claimed to have proper knowledge. The only purpose was to give an opportunity to get information about potential lecturers. Therefore we cannot make very far-reaching generalisations based on the gathered data. One of the main principles of the formation of the EU experts’ database (over 200 responses) was the principle of their free will. So therefore the database doesn’t reflect the whole situation in the field of Estonia’s EU expertise. In spite of this fact we can still reveal some characteristic tendencies.

Estonian experts on EU related issues are a heterogeneous group of people with different levels and different educational background. They consist of from members of the middle and elder generation who have successfully obtained new knowledge and retrained themselves, but also of members of the younger generation. Standardisation criteria used for evaluation of the competence of a particular scholar do not work very well in present day Estonia. The former Soviet scientific degree of 'candidate' is considered to be in most cases equal to Ph.D. at present, but those people may have different educational backgrounds and also there are differences in the level of the education among those who are quite recently graduated. The employers have a right to recognise or not the Soviet scientific degree in particular cases. Estonian ENIC/NARIC office can give only recommendations in this respect. On the other hand the competence of the experts in EU issues depends more on the special training received and/or practical experience.

The level of EU training as well as the willingness to co-operate in European issues varies from ministry to ministry. There are special sub-units responsible for European integration in all Estonian ministries, with the exception of the Ministry of Defence, but even there we can find specialists on EU’s CFSP. Some ministries are quite reluctant to give information to outside about their specialists and the present state of EU training. In some cases this is understandable, as it is in the case of the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for the Estonian currency policy, as it is facing new challenges as the European monetary union comes into force. In some institutions (e.g. the Estonian Customs Board, which falls under of the Ministry of Finance) the EU training is dealt with very practically, being conducted by people without even higher education. The Customs Board as well as the Citizenship and Migration Board organises training mainly for their own staff. The rotation of civil servants within the same institutions and short-term assignments to EU institutions should improve the current situation by increasing EU experience and promoting communication between institutions. Perhaps the possibilities of different kind of twinning programmes are not sufficiently used in this respect.

As previously mentioned the present analysis does not reflect whole situation in the field of Estonia's 'euroexpertise'. Some of the specialists in some specific areas are difficult to find or approach, while at the same time other specialists of other areas are simply unwilling to hold possible extra lectures. Many specialists (e.g. university lecturers) seem to think that their present time schedule is dense enough, so they don't want to get more obligations.

This problem concerns also the lawyers. There are rather few EU legislation specialists among practising lawyers (the law specialists are mainly university lecturers or civil servants at the Ministry of Justice). A new generation of lawyers and law specialists able to implement the EU requirements in the process of the harmonisation of Estonian legislation has emerged. The fact that the governmental structures cannot guarantee them competitive wages is one of the most stabbing problems in the process of Estonia’s European integration. Still we have to mention that due to the slight slow down of some economic processes in Estonia the solvency of law office clients has decreased and this respectivly causes lawyers to return to civil service where the income is not so high, but stable.


2.2 Better covered areas

We met a tendency that the specialists on EU related political issues were more willing to sign themselves up in the EU experts’ database, hoping to use this signup to somehow gain political capital before parliamentary (Riigikogu) elections held in March 1999. We have enough specialists on such basic issues as EU history, institutions and the decision-making process, problem solving (III pillar questions in general), common foreign and security policy (II pillar questions). Even some MPs of the Estonian Parliament found it possible to sign themselves up in the Euro experts' database. Some MPs signed up as experts on the specific questions related to the role of the Estonian parliament in the process of European integration.

According to some respondents’ own words there are also some specialists on the EU’s structural reform and enlargement, which are in fact future processes and therefore quite speculative. There are also some specialists on the specific issues of relations between EU and Estonia, EU and Russia and EU's role in the Baltic Sea region. There are specialists (mostly high level civil servants) who are willing to give information about the EU negotiations and some specialists willing and able to carry out practical training in the process of negotiation.

There are also many specialists on EU related economic and legal issues (like EU competition law, structural funds and foundations, CAP, SME policy, EU environmental law etc.) issues that require much deeper understanding and further experience, but the majority of the specialists in these areas are quite unwilling to sign up in our database. They seem to think that they are burdened enough with other obligations at the present. Because of the Estonia’s specific ethnic situation there are quite a few specialists in the human rights issues. We have a reason to believe that this is quite a heterogeneous group of people. Some of them are law specialists in the direct sense of the word; some can be categorised rather as political figures.

There are many rather specific issues concerning EU environmental policy, regional policy, common agricultural policy, statistics and demographic developments. The questions about EU information resources as well as EU documentation and document management have become specific issues. The Library of the University of Tartu has been granted the status of official EU documentation centre and there has also been established the Centre of European Information at the National Library of Estonia. The staff of these institutions already has some experience in user and student training. A large variety of different EU education and science projects have also become independent issues, requiring special expertise. Surprisingly we managed to discover quite a few experts on EU related educational problems as well as on the questions of intercultural relations. Perhaps these people are more willing to lecture compared to the experts of the other fields. EU’s broadcasting policy and media regulation can also be singled out as a specific area demanding special attention and having some expertise in Estonia.

There are also some fields that can be regarded as second grade issues, which concern for example the image of the EU presented in Estonian press, Estonian public opinion on the EU matters or the management and use of the information resources related to the EU. Even the use of the EU's scientific foundations can be singled out as a specific area requiring special expertise. Similar areas are the questions of command of language and translation of the legal acts. The latter demands good knowledge of both the language and the legal issues. The specialists able to evaluate the level of language command according to EU requirements can be found at the University of Tartu and at the Estonian Institute of Humanities in Tallinn. There are high level experts on legal act translation at the Estonian Translation and Legislative Support Centre.

Specialists of distinguished areas are concentrated in particular institutions. For example, the specialists on EU environmental requirements can be found at the Faculty of Forestry and the Institute of Environmental Protection at the Estonian Agricultural University, at the Centre of Forest Protection and Renewal. But there are also some specialists at the Euro University and some experts on EU environmental law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tartu and the Ministry of Environment. Specialists in the complex of quite specific juridical questions like migration, asylum, visa regulations and refugee policy can be found at the Citizenship and Migration Board. Specialists in EU regional political issues can be found at the Office of the Minister of Regional Issues, but also at the University of Tartu (at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Chair of Human Geography) and at the Union of Estonian Cities. The regional issues are taught also in the Centre for Supplementary Education at Tallinn Technical University and at the Institute of Public Administration.

We managed to discover specialists in such specific areas as copyright issues and the protection of intellectual property in general on one hand and maritime labour regulations or visa regulations on the other hand. Many specialists, who have been involved longer, have specialised in more specific areas, like France’s or Germany’s role in the Union on the one hand or for example such areas as unfair contract terms in consumer contracts or Bayesian mechanism planning model of the shaping of the EU enlargement decisions on the other hand.




2.3 Less covered areas

According to our data there are not enough specialists in such a complicated issue as EU social policies (with the obvious exception of labour policy). There are some specialists at the Ministry of Social Affairs, some at the Central Association of Trade Unions, but rather few of them even at universities (with the exception of Tallinn University of Educational Sciences and the University of Tartu, where some aspects of EU social policies are taught). There are some specialists in labour policy issues at the University of Tartu, but the specialists that have a more practical approach and more experience can be found at the Central Association of Trade Unions. There are almost no specialists on the issues of the convertibility of the social security schemes (considering for example person’s possibilities to get pension in an other EU country).

Though there seems to be enough of high level lecturers on the theoretical aspects of the EU economy (i.e. the internal market, the EU budget, customs and competition policy), there are very few economists willing to give a prognosis of what is going to happen when Estonia joins the EU. This is somewhat surprising when we take into consideration the fact that there are some kind of EU related studies in each of Estonia's state universities (mainly in the University of Tartu and Tallinn Technical University) and there are other scientific institutions working on the expected future trends of the Estonian economy (i.e. the Institute of Estonian Economics, the Estonian Institute for Future Studies and the Estonian Institute of Socio-Economic Analysis). Therefore we have a reason to believe that there are specialists able to give prognosis for the Estonian economy, but they are reluctant to pronounce their theoretical estimations in public.

It was also hard to find specialists on some quite specific economic issues, like the questions related to the EU internal market or the consumer protection in EU countries. We managed to find only couple of specialists of these issues from the Ministry of Economics and the Consumer Protection Board.

According to our estimation the problems related to EU fiscal policy and EMU have not been sufficiently dealt with by the mid-level specialists, for example the bank employees (with the exception of the Bank of Estonia). Among the specialists of above mentioned areas we can list only some high rank civil servants and some lecturers of the University of Tartu. Though we have reason to believe that there are high level specialists in these topics in Estonian financial institutions, but considering the sensibility of these issues they are not willing to speak publicly about their problems.

There seems to be not enough specialists in the very specific areas such as energy production and consumption, communications, logistics and transportation (with the exception of marine transportation), leaving these areas insufficiently covered. We managed to find only one or two specialists in each of these areas, which is far from sufficient considering the importance of these fields. We hope that the situation in these fields is improving in the nearest future, when the new specialists will accomplish their professional training. We did not manage to find any specialists in the issues of standardisation and fishing regulations, these areas seeming to be at least insufficiently covered by the experts. Considering the vital importance of the above mentioned areas (especially energy issues) it is to some extent still surprising.

One of the areas of special concern is statistics. It is quite regrettable that there is no co-ordinating centre for statistical data and this leads to the fact that Estonian statistical data does not exactly correspond to the EU requirements. Therefore statistics was one of the few fields for which the Estonian government requested special transition period. The correspondence of the statistics to the real processes, according to EU requirements, is one quite specific area, which also requires more attention.


2.4 Background statistics and some conclusions

The people having expertise in EU matters and who are able and willing to lecture on these matters, is a heterogeneous group (N=203). There are university lecturers, various level civil servants, researchers, leading journalists and people working on EU related practical issues. According to our data 80% of the experts willing to lecture on EU related issues lived in Tallinn, 18 % in Tartu. The gender ratio of the experts was the following: 64% of them were male, 36% female. The experts were mostly university lecturers (33%) or civil servants working at ministerial level (32%). There were even six members of the Estonian parliament who also found it possible to sign up in our database.

The languages that Estonian Euro experts have command of are mainly Estonian (97%) and English (82%), very often also Russian (56%) and less often Finnish (19%) and Swedish (6%). There are also specialists able to hold lectures in other European languages, like German (16%) and French (5%). Considering Estonia’s cultural heritage it is rather surprising that there are so few specialists able to hold lectures in German. But on the other hand we have also specialists able to lecture in languages as Czech, Danish, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Lithuanian and Japanese (the latter two in the case of one expert).

When gathering the Euro experts’ database we quite often met the fact that some of the respondents estimated their present level of competence on EU matters as insufficient. According to their opinion they will be experts in the full meaning of the word within the next couple of years. This reflects not only the self-criticism among the experts, but also the real state of ‘Euro affairs’ in Estonia, a situation where the process of the European integration is underway, demanding new expertise all the time. But at the same time there is a threat that some of the present Estonian 'Euro experts' will lose their expert status and position if they do not update their knowledge through the process of continuous retraining.

Both EU related education and training need systematic approach. For this Estonia needs in deep mapping of current resources which was attempted also here by the authors of the present publication.




Contact information:

Mait Talts, Tarmo Tuisk

The Institute for European Studies

Estonia boulevard 7

Tallinn 10143




Phone: (2) 6454187