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Estonia’s population and family policy is an example among neighbours

7. September 2020 - 11:08

In his speech opening the 2020 fall session of the Saeima in Riga on 3 September, Latvian President Egils Levits highlighted Estonia’s population and family policy and the creation of the position of the minister of population.

Levits emphasised the importance of a population and family policy as a guarantor of a country’s sustainability. He said that the Latvian administrative reform is not sufficient to ensure the country’s sustainability and it has to be supported by a purposeful population and family policy. According to Levits, there are various agencies dealing with the matters of children and families, but population policy is not yet being considered as a comprehensive and high-priority policy area that requires adequate funding. Levits also pointed out that the population policy is not a horizontal policy, but there is currently no effective cross-sectoral management. He cited Estonia as an example, where the position of the minister of population has been created to lead this area, and added that Latvia must also find a suitable institutional solution. However, according to the President, the biggest problem is the lack of political leadership that would make the population policy the first priority, not the fifth or tenth.

Levits also acknowledged the success of Estonia’s population and family policy, as a result of which Estonia’s projected population will remain close to the current 1.3 million by 2050, while Latvia’s population shows a significant declining trend. Latvia’s population is estimated to decrease to 1.4 million from the current 1.9 million by 2050.

Minister of Population Riina Solman thanked Levits for remembering and noting Estonia. “This recognition comes at a meaningful moment, as we have intensified Baltic cooperation on topics in the area of administration of the population minister in recent months. I thank President Egils Levits for his recognition and am sincerely pleased about it! I will be ready to fully cooperate and share experience with my Latvian colleagues also in the future. It is important for the entire Baltic region that our countries are strong and sustainable.” Solman added that once the Population and Cohesive Society Development Plan 2021–2030 is completed in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, it will be possible to contribute even more to Estonia’s development.

Solman admitted that the size of the population does not in itself guarantee the success of a country. “However, it is natural that in order to preserve Estonia and Estonianness, we need people who would pass on our language and culture. It is therefore important for Estonia to be a family-friendly country that values children. That must be done thoughtfully and systemically. Thus, it is important to look farther than a couple of years, and such a longer view is also supported by the new development plan. This is the only way we can last,” Solman said.

The proposal for the preparation of the Population and Cohesive Society Development Plan 2021–2030 has been submitted to the Government of the Republic. The development plan consists of four sub-programmes: population and family policy with population procedures, adaptation and integration policy, the civil society programme, and global Estonianness.

The Minister of Population is responsible for the development of the population and family policy, the promotion of global Estonianness, the coordination of population procedures, the adaptation of new immigrants, and the development of religious matters and the civil society. The aims of the Minister of Population include the sustainability and development of the people. Riina Solman is the Minister of Population since 29 April 2019.