On 7 March, the Visionary report on Estonia-Finland future cooperation was presented to Prime Ministers of the two countries, Kaja Kallas and Sanna Marin.
The work of the rapporteurs, Jaak Aaviksoo and Anne-Mari Virolainen, was supported by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute and Finnish Institute of International Affairs. The report offers policy recommendations supported by expert analysis on the future prospects of Finnish-Estonian relations.
The report provides altogether 19 policy recommendations to the governments of both countries, which are divided into four streams: (1) digital governance, (2) a vibrant economy, (3) a green future, and (4) expanded cultures. The expert analysis maps the current situation in Finnish-Estonian relations together with risks as well as opportunities in all four aforementioned areas. Some examples of the policy recommendations include:
- Demonstrate leadership in finding a modern solution to the needs of mobile citizens. More and more people are living and working alternately in two or more countries and are facing troublesome problems with various social benefits. Digital innovation can further facilitate cross-border transactions between the two countries. The two countries are priority partners in regional digitalization policy, but progress has been slower than expected thus far.
- Launch a public-private initiative under the name of FinEst Startup Hub. Remarkable undertakings from Slush to Estonian unicorns have proved the viability of our startup com- munity, which may be further strengthened through cooperation and broader public as well as private support.
- Transform the Gulf of Finland into a sustainable transport corridor by making regular Estonia- Finland traffic carbon-neutral by 2035. In order to support the development of environmentally friendly maritime transport between Finland and Estonia, it is necessary to consider the implementation of common economic incentives even more. The governments play a significant role in fostering the development in fields such as battery vessel development and hydrogen fuel engines.
- Establish a joint Estonian-Finnish language programme for four universities. Due to the lack of resources and decreasing demand at universities, the authors of the report call on the Universities of Helsinki, Tartu, Tallinn and Turku to develop a joint Finnish-Estonian Language and Literature Programme together with the free movement of students and staff between the universities.
The report was commissioned by the Governments of Estonia and Finland on the proposal of the foreign ministers in connection with the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Finland. The project group consisted of the rapporteurs Jaak Aaviksoo (Rector Emeritus of TalTech University) and Anne-Mari Virolainen (MP at Parliament of Finland), Kristi Raik (Director at the Foreign Policy Institute of ICDS), Sinikukka Saari (Senior Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs), Sigrid Nuutre (Project Manager at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute of ICDS), Tõnis Idarand (Researcher Fellow of ICDS) and Aappo Pukarinen (Parliamentary Assistant to MP Anne-Mari Virolainen). In the past, there have been two Estonian-Finnish cooperation reports carried out – in 2003 and 2008.
The report can be read here.