GeoEconomics and GeoPolitics

🇬🇧🌍Competitive Intelligence: Estonia, E-Residency 2.0 Evolution and Shadows

Estonia shadows
Estonia e-Residency

Archive, January 5, 2019, Estonia, E-Residency 2.0 Evolution

We start the year with an structured competitive topic, the evolution of the e-residency program of Estonia. It is estimated in these posts since before it produced effects and, for that reason, no public criticism was spared when the intelligence analysis revealed gaps in transparency.

At the end of last year, it was published by the Estonian government a white paper describing the results achieved by the initiative at 2018 and delineate 49 development guidelines. The intention is to step out of the start-up phase and consolidate the project based on the experience gained and the detailed suggestions transposed by the same Estonians, be they simple citizens or belong to the different socio-economic and cultural elites of the country.

For the past the framework made up is a success and, if you look at the results highlighted in the document, you can’t just agree. The commonality of opinion is derived from numbers and, above all, from the function of soft power tools that the project has covered from the geopolitical and geo-economic point of view for the country. However, the criticisms in the economic sphere remain.

Historically for the first time, in the white paper, it indicates levels of the project’s costs and revenues, with a graphical distribution per year. However, they present two different values for 2018 : the first, the one in graphic form, cites as a Deloitte source while the second, descriptive, cites no one. With regard to Deloitte, which has also been recalled in the past by the management of the initiative as an oracle of the accounting truth of the case, it has never published any paper on how the values attributed to the program are produced.

The numbers prepared by Deloitte are indicated graphically as direct costs and revenues, and the difference is little more than EUR 6 million, while the descriptive numbers report benefits, value added, total for 10 mil : assuming that the 4 millions difference is the result of indirect costs / revenues to what they are caused? Who and why did they benefit in and out? Previous analyses have highlighted concerns about the transparency of the technical managers and, as they are sensitive (economic and non-economic) data from foreign residents which go to business in Estonia, the whole leads to the increase in the perplexity.

This is also because Deloitte indicates, in the document and with the usual scarce clarity when the theme is e-Residency, for 2015 (2015 first year? Why?The project originates in 2012) a level of direct costs of around EUR 0,5 million. Considering also the only technological structure, also in an incremental and systemic perspective, necessary for the program the absolute value of the data leaves at least doubtful about who and why it actually financed the whole thing.

So nothing to overlook, as it repeats, for net results, i.e. costs / benefits for the Estonian taxpayer, and indirect, the geo-international effect of the project’s policy : big doubts persist, also with the white paper, on the transparency of the source of money.

Passing to the development side, about a year and a half ago was added to the original goal, ‘number of e-Residencers at 2025’, the number of companies opened by the same by 2021. That’s because you had noticed that it’s the second entity that makes the difference for the country and not just as an added value.

As a result, the 49 recommendations for structurally maturing the initiative follow specific general guidelines. The first, repeated almost obsessively, is to prevent e-Residency from becoming a receptacle of legal activity with origin the illegality. The second, involve e-Residencers in the development of programmed development for the country : this through the increase in relationships, not only of economic character, with the Estonian social fabric, both at home and off-site, in key countries. Finally, increase structural digitisation, not exclusively from the financial services side (from the beginning the Achilles‘ heel of the initiative) but involving further internal digital service as fly surplus.

This post was originally published on January 5, 2019, in Italian version on www.thescanner.info .This is adaptation of a neuronal Italian/English AI translation by IBM Watson.