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Estonia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2006 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 504 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1747 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1403 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2002) 1201 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission considered it necessary to continue the social reforms, improve the public health system significantly and strengthen the social dialogue. It also stressed that Estonia would need to make further efforts to bring its legislation into line with Community requirements in such areas as health and safety, labour law and equal opportunities, and would have to continue to develop the structures needed for the effective enforcement of the legislation. The Commission concluded that if Estonia pursued its efforts it should be able to take on the obligations of EU membership in the medium term.

The November 1998 Report ascertained that Estonia had made headway in the fields of labour law and the reform of social protection. However, work was still needed to transpose and enforce the Community rules governing employment and social affairs. Strategies for the employment market and for developing human resources were also required.

The October 1999 Report considered that progress in this field had been fairly limited and therefore requested that Estonia make a major effort to observe the set objectives, particularly in the field of social dialogue.

In its 2000 Report, the Commission noted some measures relating mainly to legislation, health protection in the workplace and social protection.

The 2001 Report gives an account of the significant progress made in employment and social affairs.

In October 2002 the Commission repeated its observation: legislation on employment, health and safety and public health is now close to being aligned with the acquis. The negotiations on this Chapter have been provisionally closed.

The 2003 Report states that Estonia basically meets the commitments and requirements arising from the negotiations as regards health and safety at work, the social dialogue, employment policy, social inclusion and social protection. Estonia partially meets the requirements for membership in the fields of public health, the European Social Fund and combating discrimination. However, there are serious concerns in two areas -- labour law and equality of treatment between men and women

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Apart from the various specific action programmes in the field of social affairs, such as those public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation also covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.

In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.

In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex Articles 118a and 118b).

EVALUATION

Unemployment fell in 2001, ending the year at 12.4%. In 2002 it fell to 9.1%.
Estonia has continued its reforms of the labour market, and a report presented in May 2002 summarised the progress made by the candidate countries in implementing the priorities identified earlier.

As regards employment policy, the 2003 report recalls that it is important for Estonia to improve incentives in favour of job creation and employment incentives. Besides, it must continue its modernisation of education and training policies.

Estonian labour law is still not fully aligned with the acquis. On the eve of accession, Estonia has still to adopt the draft law on employment contracts and the law on social dialogue, mainly transposing the directives concerning the European Works Council, collective redundancies, fixed-term work and part-time work.

Estonia has not yet transposed the legislation in the field of equality of treatment between men and women.

The 2001 report noted that some efforts still needed to be made in both the bipartite and tripartite social dialogue. The same observation was repeated in the October 2002 report and that of 2003.

Transposition of the acquis has progressed well over the past two years in the field of health and safety at work. Most of the legislation has been transposed and should enter into force as from accession. Alignment must be continued, notably as regards work equipment, drilling, and surface or underground mineral-extracting industries. Besides, further adaptations to the legislation are required to ensure full alignment with the framework directive.

Since 1998 Estonia has been participating in the Community health promotion programme. However, the population's health status is still below the average of the European Union. More resources need to be poured into the sector. The 2003 report notes that a national health promotion institute was created in May 2003 but that efforts will have to be pursued, notably as regards combating communicable diseases. Finally, Estonia has yet to transpose the new acquis on tobacco and to upgrade its laboratory equipment and level of training in the field of epidemiology.

As regards implementation of the European Social Fund, the administrative framework is being set up, but there is a need to accelerate the creation of the administrative structures required to manage this fund.

In the field of social protection, additional efforts are needed to put in place the reforms concerning retirement and health care.

The October 2002 report encouraged Estonia to draft a national strategy for the promotion of social inclusion, in accordance with the Union's objectives. In the course of 2004 the Commission and Estonia must finalise the Joint Memorandum on Social Inclusion, which identifies key challenges and possible policy orientations for promoting social inclusion.

The 2003 report recalls that further efforts are required as regards combating discrimination, notably to promote the integration of the Russian minority and to guarantee that application of the linguistic legislation respects the principles of public interest and proportionality

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 08.01.2004
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