On 25 May, the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) Brussels Office, held the “semi-closed” online seminar, “Estonia’s Experience Fighting the Pandemic: Crisis Management and EU Policy Dynamics”.
This was the second PISM Brussels Office online event dedicated to coronavirus crisis management and the economic consequences in Central and Eastern Europe.
While the previous discussion reflected on these topics from the broader perspective of five countries: Poland, Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary, this time the emphasis was put on Estonia’s experience in dealing with the virus and the pandemic’s effects on that country’s economy and EU policy.
Dr. Łukasz Jurczyszyn, director of the PISM Brussels Office, started with introductory remarks about PISM’s aims to be particularly supportive as a public platform for a regional perspective not often present in Brussels debates. He underlined that among the Baltic States, Estonia had to then recorded the highest number of infections and introduced the strongest restrictions. At the same time, the country quickly decided on an important recovery package to stabilise the country’s economic situation.
Next, Kinga Raś, chief expert on the Baltics States at PISM and the conference moderator, presented the following subjects, in the form of questions, for the discussion:
- What are Estonia’s key experiences in fighting the virus? What distinguishes Estonia from other Baltic and Central European states in its response to the pandemic?
- What tools and mechanisms have been implemented as part of its crisis management?
- How will the coronavirus affect the Estonian economy? According to recent forecasts, the pandemic will be extremely costly for Estonia, so how does the country’s financial and labour markets adapt to this new situation?
- To what extent will the pandemic and the anticipated economic slowdown affect Estonian policy in the EU? Will and to what extent will Estonia support the EU recovery fund to help the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Would the country back solutions that increase the EU’s competences in healthcare management and, more generally, deepen integration?
Raś then presented our two distinguished panellists:
- Prof. Raul Eamets, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tartu, and head of the Estonian Fiscal Council (IFI), and
- Marten Kokk, deputy permanent representative of Estonia to the EU.
During the discussion, they provided expertise both on strict economic (internal and external) themes and on the very detailed plan of Estonia’s officials on EU policy priorities. Moreover, they presented not only internal Estonian policy but also information about its economic relations with China. In addition, the participants learned about the similarities and differences in cross-border cooperation with Estonia’s neighbours, including Poland.
Ras’s latest analysis on how all three Baltic States have been affected by the virus was used during the discussion to amplify the uniqueness of Estonia’s experience.