Skip to main content

Estonia Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

The coalition government comprising the centre-left Centre party, the far-right EKRE, and the centre-right Fatherland is likely to remain stable in the one-year outlook. Still, ministerial resignations are likely. Disagreements among the coalition partners over long-term strategies, such as spending cuts in the public administration, are likely to delay implementation. Despite weaker growth in the main export markets, Estonia’s GDP rose by 4.4% in 2019, with support from private consumption, investments, and the still-strong export growth. Its GDP is now expected to contract by 5.2% in 2020 but GDP is expected to rise by 3.7% in 2021. Low borrowing costs, exceptionally low government debt, and fiscal space enable Estonia to smooth the shock via fiscal policy. A small open economy, Estonia depends on foreign demand and trade, which are disrupted by the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Europe. Despite the country’s strong ICT sector, the negative impact on the retail, transport, tourism, and entertainment sectors will push the economy into a recession. A good investment environment and strong ICT infrastructure could provide room for a stronger rebound in the future, and prevent any sizeable decrease in the potential growth. Estonia's relations with Russia are likely to remain damaged by Estonia's ongoing pursuit of NATO integration and economic, infrastructure, and energy diversification away from Russia. All parliamentary establishment parties agree on positioning Estonia as a business-friendly country firmly within NATO structures. Although the risk of full-blown war between Russia and Estonia is minimal, owing to the former's costly and extensive military engagements elsewhere and the latter's NATO membership, Russian military aircraft activity over the Baltic Sea and increased Russian naval presence in the territorial waters of all three Baltic states are likely to continue. Estonia is a highly digitalised country, increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks likely to target critical national infrastructure, governmental websites, financial institutions, and media outlets.

Operational Outlook

Estonia's favourable-to-businesses tax system, low level of social unrest, and stable political scene offer a good business environment. Estonia is focused on ICT, and the state authorities are investing in increasing internet literacy and in improving online information services. The quality of roads is around the EU average, but railways require modernisation and expansion. The port infrastructure is well developed. The labour force is well educated but becoming increasingly expensive. Strikes are usually peaceful and not very disruptive; sympathy strikes are highly unlikely. The risk of corruption is moderate.

Terrorism

Low

Far-right groups are the most likely perpetrators of violence, with moderate risk of injury to representatives of ethnic and sexual minorities, and refugees. The risk of jihadist terrorist attacks is low. In 2016, a court sentenced two Russian citizens, permanent Estonian residents, for supporting Islamic terrorism by transferring funds to an associate fighting in Syria. This was rather an isolated incident, however, and does not indicate an increased terrorist threat within the country. Cyber attacks, perpetrated by Russian individuals or groups acting with the tacit approval (but not necessarily direction) of the Kremlin, are likely. Attacks would probably include cyber vandalism against government websites, potentially causing temporary disruptions and software failures.

Crime

Estonia faces a steady, if not overt, threat from organised domestic and cross-border crime. Organised crime focuses on drug smuggling into the EU, and Russian and Chechen criminal interests operate in areas such as Tallinn and Narva. Judicial reforms have made counter-narcotics structures stronger. However, Estonia's borders with Finland, Scandinavia, and Latvia were opened when the Baltic states joined the EU's Schengen zone in 2007. There are dozens of fatalities annually caused by illegal synthetic opiate consumption, especially fentanyl, putting Estonia’s mortality rates some way above those of all other European countries since at least 2011. Local law enforcement services have stated the opiates are imported from Russia.

War Risks

Relations with Russia have deteriorated since the increased presence of NATO forces in Estonia. This is reflected in intensified disputes over the legacy of World War II and the rights of the Russian minority in the country. The border treaty remains unratified by the Russian and Estonian parliaments. Estonia has been erecting a fence and deploying surveillance equipment along the land border with Russia, which will most likely generally improve the security situation in Estonia. Interstate war is highly unlikely because of Estonia's NATO membership and Russia's involvement in Syria. Airspace incursions by Russian transport and fighter aircraft remain probable. Cyber espionage and cyber attacks against Estonia are likely.

Social Stability

The risk of non-violent protests by ethnic Russians is moderately probable, but currently with little potential of instigation by Kremlin-backed provocateurs. If they occur, such demonstrations are likely to remain relatively small, of several hundred people, peaceful and will receive limited backing from the wider population, currently unlikely to replicate the hybrid warfare seen in Eastern Ukraine. Peaceful environmental demonstrations are probable. Non-violent economic protests typically occur before and after legislative proposals such as the increase in excise duties and are contained to larger cities, such as Tallinn, Tartu, and Narva.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Practical Information

Climate

The climate is continental in the interior of the country and temperate along the coasts thanks to the presence of the Baltic Sea. Summers are relatively hot and winters are cold, sometimes harsh, with temperatures falling as low as -30°C. Muddy conditions are common in the spring due to the melting of winter snows.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +372
Police: 112
Ambulance: 112
Fire Dept.: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal