Information on public financial support for projects on minorities (excerpts), 2010


1. Please give the following information for each national minority:

  • description/name and size of the national minority;
  • number of minority associations receiving subsidies per year (including umbrella associations).

The biggest ethnic minorities are Russians (25.7% – about 350000 ), Ukrainians (2.1% – about 29000 ), Belarusians (1.2% – about 17000) and Finns (0.8% – about 11000). More than 120 nationalities are represented in Estonia. 67.2% of permanent residents consider Estonian as their native language. This means that both according to nationality and native language, non-Estonians form one-third of the population of Estonia. Most of the national minority groups are small, comprising few persons. New overall data will be collected in 2011/2012, when the new population census will be carried out. All national minority associations whose primary activity is preserving their national culture in Estonia can apply for funding from the state. Funding is divided into base-line and project funding. The first one is intended to cover practical costs of organizations for one year and the second one aims at supporting cultural work. There is also funding on the basis of cultural autonomies27 .

27 It is based on the national minorities cultural autonomy act.

All umbrella organizations that have passed attestation (17 organizations under which over 200 different collectives and groups have gathered) receive base-line funding28. However, project-based funding is available for all collectives or groups and it provides a wider scope of support for actions that the associations consider important.

28 More information about national minority associations is available at:

2. Do you distribute public subsidies to national minorities’ associations? Which budget (national, regional, local) is used for this purpose?

Yes, Estonia distributes public subsidies to national minorities’ associations. Both the state budget and local budgets are used for this.

3. Who determines the total amount of the subsidies to be distributed to national minorities’ associations (parliament, public administration)?

The state budget is prepared by the Government and adopted by the Parliament. Local governments prepare local budgets.

4. Which criteria is used to determine the amount of the subsidy for each national minority association? Is the number of persons affiliated with a national minority one of the criteria?

In order to get base-line funding applicants have to meet the following conditions:

  • be legal persons registered in Estonia as a non-profit association or foundation whose statutory activities include the promotion of the language, culture, and education of a national minority;
  • act as an umbrella organization, i.e. have specific national culture societies and art collectives as their members and coordinate the overall operations and financial activities of the members;
  • organizations must describe their activities in the field of national culture;
  • in order to get base-line funding, associations must be members of an umbrella organization;
  • associations that have not joined umbrella organizations can apply for project-based activity support from various funds and in various application rounds.

The amount of money received by the umbrella organizations varies from organization to organization. It is necessary to differentiate as the costs are different. The size of the organization (number of member organizations) is also one of the criteria. This implicitly reflects also the number of persons affiliated with a national minority but it is not in itself a criterion.

Cultural autonomies get funding in the form of direct support from the state budget and the amount of support depends on the size of the nation group.

In the case of project competitions, an independent evaluation committee makes the financing proposal. Applications are evaluated solely on the basis of evaluation criteria of the particular application round, which have also been explained to the applicants in the instructions. One criterion is also the number of beneficiaries of project actions.

5. Who decides on the allocation of the subsidy to a minority association within a national minority and are there any criteria, priorities or guidelines or advisory bodies?

The state funds cultural autonomies according to the size of the nation group involved in this self-governing model. The amount of funding is based on the action plan of the cultural autonomy and prior negotiations with the Ministry.

Base-line funding (as of 2009) is based on the following scheme: A maximum amount of support that the umbrella organization and its members can apply for is set. Based on this amount, the umbrella organization submits its application, indicating the distribution of support among its member organizations as well as the administration costs of the umbrella organization. The decision on allocation of support for umbrella organizations is made by the head of the funding organization, who is guided by a proposal by an evaluation committee.

In the case of project competitions, the decision is made by the head of the organization, who is guided by a proposal by an independent evaluation committee made up of specialists, target group representatives and officials.

6. Is the distribution of subsidies made by public administration, outsourced institutions or by minority associations? Which advantages or disadvantages are associated with your own national system; which experience have you encountered and what should be avoided?

Subsidies are distributed by public administration via the Integration Foundation, which was established on 31 March 1998 by the Estonian Government with the aim of initiating, supporting and coordinating projects designed to promote integration in Estonian society.

The system of base-line funding was changed in 2008 after several national minority organizations had proposed this.

One of the strengths of the new system is that the umbrella organization becomes a stronger partner for the state and the member associations can concentrate on their cultural work. The task of compiling applications and reports remains with the umbrella organization.

7. Is the distribution of these subsidies made by a contract or by a formal decision of an authority?

In the Integration Foundation the financing proposal is made by an independent evaluation committee and the subsidies are distributed on the basis of contracts.

8. Please indicate the purpose(s) of the subsidies. Which targets/priorities are favoured when attributing subsidies? Are there any guidelines for national minority associations and/or public administration or institutions which grant the subsidy contract or subsidy decision?

The overall purpose is the achievement of at least one of the following objectives:

  • 1. expanding knowledge on the cultures of national minorities and informing Estonian society of the activities of the cultural societies of national minorities;
  • 2. acknowledging the multicultural nature of Estonia, introducing the aspects of the cultures of national minorities to Estonian society via cultural projects aimed at the public (public events, lectures, exhibitions, seminars, TV and radio programmes, leaflets, etc.);
  • 3. developing cooperation between cultural societies of national minorities.

Base-line funding, however, is specifically targeted at reimbursing the overhead expenses of umbrella organizations. It is necessary so that organizations have practical matters covered and that they can then actively promote their cultural activities.

9. How concrete should the subject/object/topic of the financial support request be? Is there a distinction between basic subsidies and project subsides? In the affirmative, please clarify.

There is a distinction between base-line funding and project funding as has been explained above. In the case of base-line funding, subsidies are applied for mainly for covering administration costs, while in the case of project funding direct activity costs are funded. In both cases, the applications must include explanations of the use of funds and indicate the budgetary breakdown by expenses. It is possible to make changes to the budget in terms of expenses in the course of implementing the actions.

10. Are the minority associations obliged to set up corresponding financial accounts? When, to whom, and in which manner (submission of invoices or only written reports or both)? Is the reporting controlled by the same authority or institution which is responsible for the subsidy contract or decision?

Both performance and financial reports have to be drawn up concerning the distributed project and base-line funding. The reports are checked in terms of content by the responsible department and in terms of the financial aspect by the Department of Budget and Economic Analysis of the Ministry of Culture. Financial reporting is based on national accounting requirements and also includes submitting documents supporting the expenses made. The reports are finally approved by the responsible department, who is familiar with the content and results of each project.

The State Audit Office is a constitutional institution that has the right to carry out both financial and performance audits in accordance with valid legislation. The State Audit Office also carries out needbased independent audits of institutions distributing subsidies, with the aim of making independent expert assessments of the purposeful use of appropriations from the state budget.

11. Are the lasting results, success, and efficiency of the subsidy awarded to minority associations evaluated?

This evaluation is carried out as part of the evaluation of project results. The results of using state funds are evaluated on the basis of indicators featured in the operational programme of the Estonian Integration Strategy 2008–2013. The results and efficiency of subsidies are also evaluated at meetings with cultural societies of national minorities, at trainings and based on the data and assessments of surveys.

12. Is public administration, or the institutions which are responsible for the subsidy contracts or decisions audited? Are there any reporting duties for public administration or institutions responsible for awarding these subsidies with regard to concrete actions (e.g. to the parliament, Audit Office or internal revision department)?

The Ministry of Culture distributes state budget subsidies to non-profit associations and other national minority and foreign Estonian cultural societies who are entitled to these subsidies according to the valid procedure for the allocation of subsidies. While these associations are relieved of auditing duty, they are required to report, in accordance with internationally accepted accounting principles and valid auditing standards, to the institutions that have been assigned the auditing duty by legislation. The fact that the beneficiary has submitted an official report confirmed by the beneficiary’s signature means that the beneficiary has also assumed the responsibility of providing truthful information and is aware of the sanctions imposed for spreading false information – this is also noted in the appropriations contract. The distributor of subsidies may take relevant measures and reclaim state funds that have not been used according to initial purpose and the content of the project in question. The distributor of subsidies has a duty to the State Audit Office to give information concerning the purposeful use of state budget appropriations.

Document data: 05.05.2010; DH-MIN(2009)007 rev 2 Link:

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