On July 1 one of the smallest countries in Europe took over the rotating Presidency of the EU for the next six months. Estonia stands poised to make an impact far larger than its size as a part of the EU on labor and economic policy with its expertise in digital legislation. Estonia was bumped up into the role, after the unexpected and still shocking exit vote of Britain from the EU last year.
Estonia’s progressive highly skilled immigration and startup business policies could have a profound impact not just on the EU as a whole but on member states labor policies.
Currently, Estonia has one of the most liberal and progressive programs in the world to attract startups and highly skilled talent. Already well known for its pioneering e-residency program allowing global citizens to start and run an EU business, Estonia has been punching above its weight in attracting highly skilled talent and entrepreneurs from all over the globe.
With the US fast becoming a marked down item on sales of the top choice for the best talent or entrepreneurship, Europe is awakening to a new vision of world power. France’s new President, Macron recently made an unprecedented video invitation to scientists, entrepreneurs, and engineers to consider France as a place to thrive.
France also recently opened the biggest startup campus in the world. This is BIG. France has not been previously thought of as entrepreneurial despite the word being French. Things are changing.
Germany has been in the game for awhile with their Make it in Germany website and many free programs for international students. Its government has prioritized a mission to attract highly skilled foreign talent. Many other countries in the EU still struggle with outdated or cumbersome highly skilled immigration policies even though they realize there is an urgent need to join the playing field of big name talent programs.
However, they either don’t know what to do or can’t engender the political will to do so. Even the UN considers the digital economy model of Estonia to be a growth generator for less developed countries and an enabler for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
So what if Estonia’s shining moment of glory on the world stage showed a different way? A so-called third way — keeping intact sovereignty, chasing away the demons of xenophobia, and crushing the tired trope used too often — fear of labor displacement for citizens.
Estonia can provide the data and legislative policies as an example of what these liberal labor and immigration policies have provided their country — a thriving startup scene, many highly skilled foreign talent willing to innovate in Estonia at a far lower cost than in their home countries, and the ultimate sweet spot — melding the best of many cultures.
Wow, that used to remind me of America. EU Presidency here we come!