Estonia Report


Main Actors

Policy coordination and cooperation in terms of a WGA is largely informal in Estonia, with the exception of obvious formal cooperation and reporting taking place between the executive and legislative branches. However, the practices of cooperation have developed over a long period of time and have become sufficiently established.
In formal terms, cooperation and coordination take place between the legislative (parliament) and executive (government, ministries) branches. Members of the government are accountable to the MPs and subject to hearings during parliamentary plenary meetings. Parliamentary committee meetings regularly feature representatives from ministries and, if necessary, from other governmental bodies. The Chancellery of the Parliament provides policy and research support to the committees and parliamentary groups (factions) and, when necessary, can organise ad hoc meetings and inquiries for the MPs.
The main actors involved in WGA-like policy framework in Estonia are at the ministerial level. The national contact point or leading institution in the case of most external conflicts or crises is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In terms of formulating policies, foreign policy and diplomacy is led by the MFA in cooperation with the Government Office, both of which have specific regional or thematic policy departments that work in close cooperation. The MFA also emphasises cooperation with the parliament, the ministries, the Office of the President, civil society organisations and academic institutions. The Government Office is the main governmental body tasked with coordinating Estonia’s policies in the EU.
Depending on the nature and the extent of the crisis at hand, other ministries and agencies can be involved in responses to external conflicts or crises on a case-by-case basis. Rather than being anchored in specific policy documents, this principle is often an informal practice developed over a longer period of time. For example, in security matters, the involvement of the Ministry of Defence is crucial, and representatives from other bodies (e.g. the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service or the Defence Forces) may be invited. In the case of humanitarian crises or natural disasters, the Ministry of the Interior, the Police and Border Guard Board, the Estonian Rescue Board, the Ministry of Finance, or the Ministry of the Environment may also be involved.
The best-documented examples of multi-level engagement of various actors in Estonia can be observed in the field of development and humanitarian aid. While the MFA acts as the focal point of national development policy, the policy itself is drafted and executed by the MFA in cooperation with several actors. Most development aid is distributed through projects funded by the MFA and implemented in third countries by its partners. These can include other Estonian ministries, various public-sector institutions, institutions of higher education, Estonian and local NGOs, private companies and international organisations. The humanitarian aid is usually channelled through international organisations, such as various UN agencies (e.g. the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN World Food programme), the World Health Organization (WHO) or the International Committee of the Red Cross.
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