Estonian immigration exceeded emigration in 2015

According to Statistics Estonia, 15,413 persons immigrated to and 13,003 persons emigrated from Estonia in 2015. Net migration was 2,410 and natural increase -1,336, meaning that immigration compensated for the population decrease which occurred due to negative natural increase.

The most active group of external migrants was the group of 20–39-year-olds. In most age groups immigration exceeded emigration with the exception of the age groups of 10–14-year-olds and 25–29-year-olds. The number of men among the migrants exceeded that of women, but net migration indicates that the number of women who remain abroad exceeds that of men.

52% of the immigrants and 69% of the emigrants were citizens of Estonia, therefore the back-and-forth mobility of citizens of Estonia continues to constitute the majority of the external migration. 21% of the immigrants were EU citizens and 27% were citizens of third countries. 15% of the emigrants were EU citizens and 10% were of other citizenship. The EU citizens that immigrated were younger than the immigrants that were of Estonian or other citizenship, which, in the case of citizens of Estonia could be explained by the fact that they were mostly returning migrants. Of the citizenships that were most represented in external migration, the only number to decrease as a result of net migration was that of Estonian citizens. The increase was biggest for the persons holding citizenship of a third country. As a result of external migration, the biggest foreign citizenship groups that remained in Estonia were those of Ukraine, Russia and Finland. The immigration and emigration of EU citizens and people with undetermined citizenship balanced each other out.

Most of the persons whose migration country is known have gone to Finland or come from there. The main destination countries include other highly developed European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. The main source countries of immigration are, in addition to Finland, also Ukraine and Russia. By birth country, 49% of the immigrants are from Estonia, 11% from Russia and 8% from Ukraine. 68% of the emigrants were born in Estonia, 9% in Russia and 4% in Finland.Diagram: Immigration by citizenship, 2015

Diagram: Emigration by citizenship, 2015

As of 2016, Statistics Estonia calculates external migration based on the residency index: a person’s transition from resident to non-resident is emigration and the opposite is immigration (when it is not the case of birth or death). As a result, migration flows have increased and this must be taken into account when comparing 2015 migration data to that of previous years. As a result of the changes, the Estonian external migration reflects reality more accurately; however, the country of origin and destination of many immigrants and emigrants remains unknown.

Source: Statistics Estonia

The price level in Estonia falls under pressure from factors from abroad

  • The main cause of the fall in prices in February was the continuing descent of commodity prices on the global market
  • Prices fell for motor fuels in February even though the euro has weakened against the dollar and higher excise rates started to apply
  • Estonian companies use imported commodities as production inputs, and this has reduced core inflation
  • Uncertainty in the global economy is holding down the expectations of consumers and slowing growth in consumer prices in Estonia and in the euro area

Data from Statistics Estonia show that the consumer price index was 0.5% lower in February than a year earlier. The harmonised index of consumer prices for the euro area was also down, with consumer prices down by 0.2% over the year.

The main reason prices fell in Estonia was that commodities prices were again down on global markets. Falls in prices in foreign markets affect Estonian consumer prices through various channels. Lower prices for imported energy and food products have a direct impact. After the price of electricity was pushed up for a time in January by the cold weather, the fall in energy prices accelerated in February to 8.9%. Prices for motor fuels were 10.1% lower in February than a year earlier even though the euro had weakened against the US dollar and excise on motor fuels was raised in February.

Although the euro is lower against the dollar, the nominal effective exchange rate for Estonia, which takes account of all trading partners and the currencies used in transactions, has constantly strengthened over the past year. The main reason for this has been the sharp fall in the Russian rouble and the significant Russian share of Estonia’s trade, though the share has been reduced. The total effect of the divergence in the exchange rates has been to lower Estonian inflation by an estimated one percentage point.

Cheaper commodities also affect Estonian consumer prices indirectly as Estonian companies use imported commodities as production inputs. This brings down core inflation, which is the rise in prices of manufactured goods and services, and in February it stood at 1.3%. On top of the fall in prices for some production inputs, the low level of economic activity also reduced core inflation.

Inflation is also moved by the expectations of consumers. Uncertainty in the global economy is holding back rises in consumer prices in Estonia and in the whole of the euro area. The consensus forecasts of economic analysts for Estonia two years ahead have been steadily lowered for inflation to 2.3%. The calculations indicate that inflation in Estonia has been pulled down by around 0.8 percentage point by expectations in recent years. The economic forecast published by Eesti Pank in December put expected inflation at 1.2% for 2016, but the lower prices for commodities in recent months make it probable that inflation will be lower.



Estonia paid 188 mEUR to IMF

Eesti Pank made an additional payment to the International Monetary Fund on Feb.10,2016 of 188 million euros, which will increase Estonia’s participation in the IMF. This is part of the final phase of reform of the IMF quotas, which aims to increase the voting rights of developing countries.

Estonia’s participation or quota increased by some 150 million SDRs, or 188 million euros, and will be 244 million SDRs after the payment, or about 306 million euros. This will give Estonia 0.07% of the voting rights in the IMF. The increase in Estonia’s quota was approved by the Riigikogu in June 2012.

SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are units of account created by the International Monetary Fund. Their value is based on a basket of four currencies, the US dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the pound sterling*.

The Riigikogu appointed Eesti Pank as the representative of Estonia at the IMF, and Eesti Pank made the payment to the IMF in relation to the increase in the quota, paying 25%, or 47 million euros, in SDRs and 75%, or around 141 million euros, in the local currency, which is the euro. The quota payment does not affect the state budget, as the only changes are in the structure of Eesti Pank’s assets.

On 30 June 2012 member states whose quotas added up to 70% of the total approved the increase in quotas. The increase in quotas also needed changes to be made to the Articles of Agreement of the IMF, which required the approval of 60% of the member states, representing 85% of the total votes. The last to ratify the reform was the USA, which did so in January 2016, after which all the member states, including Estonia, had to make their payments within not more than 30 days. Estonia’s increased participation in the IMF will apply after today’s payment.

* From 1 October 2016 the Chinese yuan will be added to the currency basket.

Background Information

The total value of the IMF quotas will be almost doubled from 238 billion SDRs to 477 billion SDRs. The IMF’s proposal to raise the quotas was prompted above all by the need to double the its resources in the face of a global financial crisis, given the changed position of quickly developing member states, including Estonia, in the global economy. The IMF regularly reviews the quotas of its member states at least once every five years.

The quota determines the maximum participation of the member state in the IMF. The size of the quota is calculated for each country using a formula that considers that country’s GDP, openness to trade, economic volatility in terms of capital flows and the current account, and currency reserves. Quotas are also important in determining whether member states can borrow from the IMF, as access to the IMF’s credit lines is usually linked to the applicant’s quota.

In June 2012 the Riigikogu ratified the proposed changes to the IMF’s Articles, which aimed to make the management of the IMF more flexible and to increase the voting rights of developing countries. Following the decision of the Riigikogu, Estonia gave its approval to the increase in the Estonian quota and to the changes in the IMF Articles. See also

Source: Bank of Estonia

Estonian government grants citizenship to 85 people

The government decided on January 14,2016 to grant Estonian citizenship to 85 people and to release 54 people from Estonian citizenship.

The government endorsed the naturalization of 85 people none of whom is a national of any other country at this point, spokespeople for the government said.

The government released 54 people from Estonian citizenship. Of these people 45 reside in a foreign country and want to relinquish their Estonian citizenship in connection with acquiring the citizenship of the country where they live.

Fourteen of the people relinquishing their Estonian citizenship live in Russia, 20 in Finland, three in the UK, two in Australia, and one in Norway, the United States, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Ireland each.

Nine of the persons relinquishing their Estonian citizenship live in Estonia and eight of them have been granted citizenship of Russia and one of the UK.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Delays in opening the checkpoint on Estonian-Russian border

The Narva-2 checkpoint for pedestrians on the Estonian-Russian border in Narva, where reconstruction of facilities on the Estonian side was completed at the end of 2015, will open at the beginning of March at the earliest as a result of red tape in Russia, officials said on Monday.

Construction works have been virtually completed also on the Russian side, Lilia Zujeva, project manager at the Interior Ministry’s financial department, told BNS.

Zujeva said it’s formal procedures in Russia that take the extra time. First, the Russian Justice Ministry must give its endorsement, then the federal government has to issue an order and only after that can the checkpoint be opened, she said.

All this is estimated to take about two months. “We hope that the border checkpoint can be opened by the beginning of March,” the official added.

The checkpoint of the pedestrian crossing is situated in a two-story building next to the gates of what used to be the Kreenholmi Manufaktuur textile factory. Pedestrians cross the river separating the two countries by a 184.5-meter bridge built in 1980.

The Estonian state real estate management company RKAS and the construction company Ehitus5ECO OU signed an agreement in June 2015 on the reconstruction of the Narva-2 checkpoint and the pedestrian bridge for 777,000 euros. The works are financed using funds of the Estonia-Latvia-Russia cross-border program for 2007-2013 under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

It will be easier for foreigners to come to work and live in Estonia

Legislative amendments aimed at making it easier for foreign specialists to come to work and live in Estonia are about to take force on Jan. 1, 2016.

“The amendments to the Aliens Act taking effect from the new year are a follow-on to the amendments made two years ago whose aim was to favor highly skilled people taking up residence in Estonia,” Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur said in a press release. “The amendments ease formalities for foreigners coming to work or study in Estonia and afford them better conditions for self-realization,” the minister said.

From January next year, a foreigner who has come to work in Estonia can work for multiple employers simultaneously provided that the conditions set out in the residence permit issued for employment are observed. For taking up employment with another employer permission from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, payment of remuneration in the amount set out by the law and informing will no longer be required.

The permission of the Unemployment Insurance Fund necessary for applying for a residence permit for employment will no longer be personal, meaning that the Unemployment Insurance Fund may authorize an employer to fill one or several jobs with foreigners if no workforce with corresponding skills and qualifications can be found in Estonia. Besides the possibility will be created for foreigners staying in Estonia for a short term and foreigners staying in Estonia under a fixed-term residence permit to work in Estonia as a temporary agency worker.

To provide foreigners with more flexible conditions for continuing to live in Estonia, a 90-day transition period from the date of expiry of the residence permit will be introduced. The length of the transition period for students who have graduated from an Estonian university and for foreign researchers and university teachers is 183 days. During the transition period the person can apply for a new residence permit on different grounds, such as for enterprise, employment or study, without having to leave Estonia.

The amendments would create a new category of residence permit — residence permit for taking up permanent residence in Estonia. The latter can be issued to foreigners well adapted in Estonia for up to five years at a time to create better conditions for their remaining in Estonia for employment, study or enterprise.

Altogether 23,787 foreigners have a fixed-term Estonian residence permit at this point. The biggest numbers of applications for such permits this year have been filed by citizens of Ukraine and Russia, followed by people of unspecified citizenship and U.S. citizens.

Under current rules, an employer who wishes to hire a foreigner not having an Estonian residence permit must obtain permission from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and pay the foreigner at least 1.24 times the Estonian national average wage.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Estonia’s immigration quota for next year to be set at 1,317

The Estonian government is to discuss on Thursday endorsing 1,317 persons, 0.1 percent of the country’s permanent population, as the immigration limit for 2016.

The immigration quota was set at 0.1 percent of the permanent population also for 2015, spokespeople for the government said.

The limit does not apply to citizens of the European Union, of a member state of the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, and does not include the war refugees to be accepted by Estonia from Greece and Italy under the EU refugee distribution scheme.

For 2012-2014, the government set the limit at 0.075 percent of the permanent population of Estonia, raising it to 0.1 percent of the population in 2015.

In 2013 the number of temporary residence permits to be issued was capped at 1,000 and altogether 602 such permits were issued during the year, meaning that 398 units of the quota were not used. The maximum number of permits that could be issued last year was 996 and 720 permits were issued during the year. The quota for this year is 1,322 and 1,137 permits had been issued by Dec. 1.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review