The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) has been represented in Estonia since 1993, with its office in the country’s capital, Tallinn. The office is led by an academic employee of the foundation, and is coordinated from the regional office for the Baltic States in Riga.
More than 25 years after regaining independence, Estonia has a stable democracy and is securely anchored in the European community. Party competition in Estonia is highly dynamic, leading to frequent changes in its government. In addition to low public trust in political parties, the readiness for social and political involvement among most citizens is lacking.
Initially, the core fields of FES activity lay in accompanying political and economic transformation processes in Estonia; currently it is confronted with new economic, social and geopolitical challenges that are included in the projects that FES carries out in the country. Although, Estonia shines as a pioneer and generator of ideas for a consistent digitisation strategy in Europe, the country’s transformation processes have not been completed since its accession to the EU in 2004. Specifically, the implementation of European economic and social standards is still to a large degree insufficient. Estonia has the lowest national debt in the EU and is one of Europe’s most competitive countries; however, income disparity in the country has significantly widened over the years, the poverty level is far above the European average and the Estonian flat tax system offers limited options for solidarity-based distribution of wealth.
Economically sustainable and especially socially just growth policies are gaining support among political and social partners quite slowly, but FES supports all the parties in the social dialogue with the goal of strengthening the Estonian social state.
Similarly to other Baltic States, Estonia’s foreign policy is directed by security interests, especially with respect to Russia. In its projects related to this, the FES office in Estonia focuses in particular on developing a European foreign and security policy, and including Russian perspectives and representatives in discussions that concern security policy.
It is the goal of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation to help strengthen political participation and civil society through dialogue, political education and consulting, stimulating the necessary discourse over a socially just economic policy and promoting international dialogue in matters of Estonia’s European integration and exchange in terms of a common European foreign and security policy.