In climate changes matters Estonia supports also stronger co-operation with third countries. Stronger co-operation could be promoted through a strategic program for enhanced technology transfer and scientific co-operation on low greenhouse technologies in the field of energy, transport, industry and agriculture.
2007 marked the beginning of a new 7-year EU budgetary period on which the member states had come to the long-awaited agreement in December 2005. The European Parliament gave its approval to the perspective in June 2006. It was a significant outcome for the EU. Firstly, the failure toconclude an agreement would have meant difficulties in financing the EU policies. Secondly, the agreement proved that the enlarged union still functions and that 25 states are able to come to an agreement on complicated issues.
The negotiations were difficult but Estonia may be satisfied with the result. As a result of the negotiations Estonia receives from the EU budget ca 70 bln kroons (2004 constant price, nominally ca 75 bln kroons) of which ca 52 bln goes to structural aid, ca 9.5 bln to rural development, ca 8 bln to direct support for agriculture. Estonia funds the EU budget ca 100 bln kroons during the 7 year period.
In general, the agreement helps the European Union to develop and renew its policies which otherwise would have turned out to be most intricate, for example the growth of the EU's competitiveness in the world would have been hampered, also it would have been more difficult for the new EU Member Sates to catch up with living standards of the old member states.
One can also say that a fair financial plan attests to the fact that solidarity still has an important place in the EU. The raising of the budget ceiling up to 1.047% EU GNI, the reduction of the British rebate altogether by 10.5 bln euros and the increasing of cohesion funding for new Member States means that the outcome would ensure good conditions for development to poorer Member States and enhance in summary the economic unity of the Union. The decision to review the budget again in 2008/2009 in order to update the breakdown of expenditures and revenues was positive as well.
Joining the Schengen area is Estonian priority as we wish to ensure the rapid and complete free movement of Estonian citizens within the EU. The expansion of the Schengen area was originally intended for October 2007. Unfortunately, it was postponed because of technical problems in the introduction of the second-generation i.e. improved Schengen Information System (SIS II) which is an essential pre-condition for the new enlargement of the Schengen area.
In order to minimize the delay of the enlargement of the Schengen area, the Council of European Union adopted in December 2006 a temporary solution envisaging to extend the current (first-generation) Schengen Information System (SIS I) to the new member states. This decision enables to lift controls at the internal land and sea borders in December 2007 and at the airports in March 2008 at the latest. The development of SIS II continues in parallel.
In 2006 the evaluation procedure of the new member states was concluded in the field of border management, visa issuance and consular co-operation, police co-operation and data protection. To fulfil all the criteria for the accession to the Schengen area, the new member states are required to remove deficiencies and apply the recommendations pointed out in the evaluation reports. For Estonia it means eliminating the shortcomings at the border in Narva, at the airport of Tallinn and in the area of data protection.
The Lisbon process
Pursuant to the renewed Lisbon strategy, in the upcoming years like in the rest of Europe more attention has to be paid in Estonia to employment and to economic growth, productivity as well as the quality of work must be enhanced. To create new jobs a more business friendly environment for the establishment of new enterprises must be ensured. Simplification of legislation and reducing the administrative burden on entrepreneurs must remain a priority. The knowledge and skills of employees must correspond to the needs of the economy, for which purpose it is necessary to adjust the education system to the expectations of the labor market. Besides a high quality labor force, the use of new technologies is a basis for the growth in productivity. Here the fostering of innovation and of research and development is most important, as well as closer co-operation between research institutions and enterprises.
In order to carry out those purposes at the national level Estonia has worked out an Action Plan for Growth and Jobs (the Lisbon Strategy ) for 2005-2007. The two main goals of the Action Plan are the developing of the human resource and the promoting of research and development activities.
In October 2006, Member States presented Implementation Reports to the European Commission on progress of Lisbon process. On the assumption of these reports the commission published the annual progress reports.
According to the Commission's analysis Estonia's progress in implementing National Reform Programme for growth and jobs has been very good. Estonia is one of the six member states and the only member state of the 2004 enlargement round to whom the Commission has not proposed any formal country specific recommendations for policy corrections or better implementation of the Lisbon action plan.
However, Estonia needs to continue to fulfil its action plan without a delay if it wants to achieve the targets laid down in the Lisbon process agenda by 2010.
Free movement of labour
Free movement of labour is one of the EU's four basic freedoms and Estonia finds that it should be extended to the inhabitants of all Member