BLRT interested in construction of Lithuanian nuclear plant

The head of the Estonian shipbuilding and industrial holding BLRT Grupp, Fjodor Berman, said in an interview with Eesti Päevaleht that BLRT is very much interested in performing various works in the construction of the new nuclear power plant in Lithuania. “Specialists from Hitachi have already visited our plants in Lithuania and the possibilities that we have surprised them positively,” Berman told the newspaper.

Berman also said BLRT was interested in the Russian nuclear plant to be built near Kaliningrad. “Right now we’re examining possibilities, holding negotiations. We have the desire, let’s see what possibilities there will be,” he said.

The major projects BLRT is working on now include several gas plants, said Berman. A new gas plant with an annual capacity of 70 million cubic meters of gas is due ready in north-eastern Estonia in the fall. Projects to build gas plants are also under work in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, and Liepaja, Latvia.

Other large investments by BLRT include the establishment of a service and logistics centre for metal products in Riga and the development of the Peetri Port property in central Tallinn into a centre for cultural facilities, or the so-called Noblessner quarter.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonian power plants get free emission credits

By a decision published on Wednesday, the European Commission approved the allocation of free carbon dioxide emission quotas to Estonian power plants during a transitional period to help modernise the sector. A similar transitional free allocation was endorsed for Cyprus.

The Commission concluded that certain provisions of Cyprus’s and Estonia’s development plans for the electricity sector allocating carbon emission trading allowances free of charge are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the funds granted, 371 million euros for Estonia and 194 million euros for Cyprus, will be used to modernise the production infrastructure, diversify the energy mix, and build new installations to replace capacity. This will contribute to liberalising energy markets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing the security of supply, which is in line with EU objectives, the Commission said.

According to information published earlier, the bulk of the free emission allowance in Estonia will go to the state-owned Eesti Energia, which is building a new power plant working on oil shale and biomass.

Source: Estonian Review

Labour cost per hour in EU countries

Among the Member States for which data are available for the first quarter of 2012, the highest annual increases in hourly labour costs were registered in Estonia(+7.2 %), Bulgaria (+6.8 %), Austria(+5.3 %) and Romania (+5.2 %), and the lowest in Luxembourg (+0.9 %) and Cyprus (+1.0 %). Hourly labour costs decreased in Slovenia(-1.2 %) and remained stable in the United Kingdom compared with the first quarter of 2011.

Labor cost per hour in EURO area
















Labour cost per hour in the business economy – 2010 according to Eurostat

Estonian vs EU prices

In 2011, price levels for consumer goods and services1 differed widely across Member States.  Denmark (142% of the EU27 average) had the highest price level, followed by Sweden (128%), Finland (125%) and Luxembourg (122%). Price levels between 20% and 30% below the average were observed in Estonia (79%), Malta (78%), the Czech Republic (77%), Latvia (74%) and Slovakia (72%), and levels between 30% and 40% below in Lithuania (66%), Hungary (64%),  Poland and Romania (both 60%). The lowest price levels were found in Bulgaria (51%). These data come from a report2 published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. 

Price levels for food and non-alcoholic beverages3 in 2011 ranged from 67% of the EU27 average in Bulgaria to 136% of the average in Denmark. Differences in price levels between Member States were less for this product group than for total goods and services. Estonia 86

For alcoholic beverages and tobacco4, prices were lowest in Hungary (63% of the average) and highest in Ireland (163%). This large price variation is mainly due to differences in taxation of these products among Member States. Estonia 83

Clothing5 is one of the groups of products showing a smaller price variation among Member States, with Bulgaria (75% of the average) cheapest and Sweden (133%) most expensive. Estonia 101.

Consumer electronics6 is another group of products where prices differed less among Member States, ranging from 89% of the average in Poland to 125% in Malta. Estonia 100

Excluding Denmark (167% of the average), price differences among Member States were also limited for personal transport equipment, with levels varying from 83% of the average in Bulgaria to 122% in Portugal. Estonia 90

For restaurants and hotels, price variations were more significant, with price levels ranging from 45% of the average in Bulgaria to 154% of the average in Denmark. Estonia 74

See full table here:

84 100 asylum seekers in EU 2011

The EU27 Member States granted protection to 84 100 asylum seekers in 2011 compared with 75 800 in 2010. The largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status1 in the EU27 were citizens of Afghanistan (13 300 persons or 16% of the total number of persons granted protection status), Iraq (9 000 or 11%) and Somalia (8 900 or 11%), reported Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. 

In 2011, 365 600 decisions on asylum applications4 were made in the EU27, of which 237 400 were first instance decisions and 128 200 final decisions on appeal. Decisions made at the first instance5 resulted in 59 500 persons being granted protection status, while a further 24 600 received protection status on appeal6. In total, of the 84 100 persons who were granted protection status in 2011, 42 700 persons were granted refugee status, 29 400 subsidiary protection and 12 000 authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons. In addition, the EU27 Member States received 4 100 resettled refugees. 

The rate of recognition of asylum applicants, i.e. the share of positive decisions in the total number of decisions, was 25% for first instance decisions, split between refugee and subsidiary protection status (21%) and humanitarian status (4%). For final decisions on appeal the recognition rate was 19%, again split between refugee and subsidiary protection status (17%) and humanitarian status (2%). 

In 2011, the highest number of persons granted protection status was registered in the United Kingdom (14 400), followed by Germany (13 000), France (10 700), Sweden (10 600), the Netherlands (8 400) and Italy (7 500). These Member States accounted for more than three quarters of all those granted protection status in the EU27. 

See also – Decisions on asylum applications in 2011

Universities invite students to study IT

Estonian universities announced that they are ready to ennrol more students for studying information technology.

A representative of the Tallinn Technical University said that the university will this year have 1,770 state-funded slots plus 715 slots for master’s studies.

The state is keen to see more young people to study information technology because employers are complaining about lack of workforce in this sector.

Tartu University is also promoting IT as one of the key specialisations.

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See also study opportunities in English language at the Estonian School of Hotel and Tourism Management

H&M to open its first three stores in Estonia

The developer and manager of retail properties Citycon and the Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) signed an agreement on Wednesday whereby two new H&M stores will be opened in Tallinn in the fall of 2013. Citycon is the owner of the Rocca al Mare, Kristiine and Magistrali shopping centres in Tallinn.

In addition, Catella Corporate Finance OÜ, a holding of the Swedish real estate group CA Fastigheter AB, will open a Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) store and a Rimi supermarket in the former post office in downtown Tallinn in fall 2013.

H&M and Rimi are the first tenants of the new shopping centre to be set up in Tallinn’s former central post office, head of the company’s Estonian branch Andreas Claesson said. “As Swedish investors, we are especially pleased to play a part in H&M’s entry into Estonia,” he said.

The company is at present looking for tenants for the rest of the building.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia’s best m-service

The Information System Authority (RIA) on Wednesday named a mobile application of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) the country’s best m-service. The application, which allows users to watch and listen live to all TV and radio programmes and access the broadcaster’s archive, was developed in co-operation by ERR, Finestmedia, and Helmes, RIA said. In addition to live broadcasts and archived materials, the application offers daily news in Estonian, Russian and English and programming schedules.

Jury member Katri Ristal said the ERR application won the competition because it is user-friendly and enables users to keep abreast of daily news and use the Estonian audiovisual archive regardless of their location.

The winner in the commerce and business category was Qminder, a mobile application for remote queuing that makes the service process substantially more comfortable. In the category of health and environment MOBO, an orienteering application developed by Tak R&D, was declared the winner.

By way of exception, several applications were named as the best in the category of culture and education. The jury’s pick was applications by Walk & Learn that provide study material on nature.

In all 44 domestic m-services participated in the five categories of the competition initiated by RIA. The eight-member jury consisting of experts from various fields of life evaluated the entries by their functionality, user-friendliness, aesthetic quality, safety, and marketing and social potential.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonian schoolchildren speak good English

On the basis of a language proficiency study initiated by the European Commission, Estonian schoolchildren’s command of English was the fourth best among the 14 countries that took part in the study; command of the other tested language, German, was poorer among Estonian young people, and they remained seventh in the study.

The study confirmed that Estonian schoolchildren’s command of their first foreign language was at a good level, Tõnu Teder, adviser at the language department of the Ministry of Education and Research, told reporters. “But it is necessary to think how to improve the study of a second foreign language, because there is still a lot of room for development there,” Tender added.

In addition to the command of a language, the study also examined some aspects of language learning. It was confirmed, for example, that learning a foreign language as early as possible would ensure better command of the language. Students who feel the need to learn a language achieve better results than students whose attitude to learning a language is reluctant.  A somewhat surprising conclusion from the study was that independent use of a computer for language learning exercised a negative influence on the command of a language.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia 21st among EU27 by GDP per capita

Estonia’s GDP per capita was 67 percent of the EU average last year, placing the nation 21st , according to Eurostat.  Lithuania and Latvia placed 24th and 25th, respectively. 

The richest country in the EU was Luxembourg (274 percent of the EU average) and the bottom of the ranking was occupied by Bulgaria ( 45 percent of the EU average).

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