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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(2003) 1201 - 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 opinion of July 1997, the European Commission did not foresee any major problems for Estonia in the field of research and technological development. With regard to the telecommunications sector, which had been rapidly liberalised, the Commission confirmed that Estonia had a good chance of bringing its legislation into line with the Community acquis in the medium term, provided that efforts to transpose the legislation were stepped up. With regard to the information society, the Commission considered that the positive approach to telecommunications liberalisation and the efforts made at national level in the educational sector should help Estonia to realise its potential in this area.
The November 1998 report confirmed that the information society and research and technological development were priorities in Estonia, and that progress had been made in those fields. Estonia still had to adopt legislation in the telecommunications sector, although some progress had been made towards conformity with Community law.
The October 1999 report noted that, although a start had already been made with privatisation in the telecommunications sector, Estonia still had to enact crucial legislation. Progress had been achieved in the information society and research and technological development sectors, thanks to full association with the Fifth Framework Programme.
The October 2000 report noted that considerable progress had been made over the past year.
In 2001, Estonia continued its policy of aligning with the Community acquis, achieving major progress both in terms of liberalisation of the telecommunications market and implementation of its regulatory framework.
The October 2002 report noted that Estonia had in particular made progress as regards postal services, as considerable progress had already been made in the telecommunications and information society sectors. Further progress had also been achieved with regard to research and technological development.
The 2003 Report notes that, in the field of telecommunications and research, most of the commitments arising from the accession negotiations have been met. Regarding postal services, some of the obligations have been fulfilled.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and Technological Development activities (RTD) at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as supporting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The Europe Agreement between the European Union and Estonia provides for cooperation in these areas, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to remove barriers to the efficient operation of the Internal Market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open foreign markets to Community enterprises and to make modern services available to citizens and enterprises in the European Union. These objectives must be achieved by harmonising standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalising the terminal equipment, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulatory measures.

The Europe Agreement stipulates that improvements in standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, and the standardisation, regulation and modernisation of the infrastructure to Community level must be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the approximation of rules, networks and services and on the measures to be taken gradually to liberalise the sector.

EVALUATION

In the field of research and technological development, Estonia's association with the "Fifth Framework Programme" (1998-2002) began in June 1999. To prepare for this, a support structure was established within the Ministry of Education. Estonia also decided to open its research activities to researchers from the Member States. The present Community acquis does not need to be transposed into national law, although Estonia does need to ensure that its general legal order is compatible with the Community acquis. In its 2001 report, the Commission encouraged Estonia to strengthen its research-related infrastructure. The Estonian Research and Development Strategy 2002-2006 was approved by the Parliament in December 2001. Annual research, development and innovation (RD&I) action plans will be compiled on the basis of this strategy. Gross domestic expenditure on research and technological development was increased in 2001 and it is planned to reach 1.5% of GDP by 2006. Estonia has also expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006).

Privatisation and modernisation of telecommunications infrastructure is quite advanced. In January 1999 the telecommunications operator launched a large public offer of shares in the international market. The new Telecommunications Act was adopted in February 2000. This introduced the regulatory framework necessary to implement the Community acquis. The Estonian telecommunications market has been gradually opened as of 1 January 2001, extending to local telephone calls a few months later.

The mobile telephone sector has been especially successful. Penetration in mobile services reached 54% in 2002, and there are three GSM operators. At the same time, productivity in the fixed sector has grown quickly and prices are more balanced. Further efforts to rebalance prices are needed, however, along with measures to maintain the affordability of the universal service through special tariffs.

The 2002 report notes that Estonia has already achieved liberalisation of the telecommunications market and implementation of its regulatory framework. The implementation of the Estonian regulatory framework largely conforms with the acquis, with the exception of carrier preselection and all the elements of universal service.

The Cable Transmission Act was adopted in February 1999. This law regulates the provision of telecommunication services through cable networks and the lifting of restrictions on the provision of cable services. It also controls cross-holdings between telecommunications and cable networks. With the new Cable Distribution Act of May 2001, the cable distribution market will be fully open to competition.

Postal services have already been deregulated. The Postal Act, adopted in June 2001, entered into force in January 2002. Under this Act, a licence for the provision of the universal postal service shall be issued only to an operator providing the postal service with uniform charges throughout the whole territory of Estonia. However, legislative alignment must still be completed, notably as regards the independent regulatory body, the licensing system, universal service providers and postal service quality control standards.

Regarding the information society, Estonia has continued to implement its school computerisation programme 'Tiger Leap', aiming at full computerisation/Internet access for all schools, as well as the computerisation of their administrative structures. However, problems related to access to quality telephone lines in remote areas and budget restrictions on schools have caused several delays. Internet host penetration is the highest amongst Central and Eastern European Countries. Estonia has also continued to implement the Action Plan on Information Technologies for the years 2002-2003, approved by the Government in May 2001.

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

 
Last updated: 15.01.2004
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