Estonian PM: ‘Vaccine certificates are a way of doing things faster’


It’s a Baltic nation well known for being technologically ahead of the curve. And Estonia is living up to that reputation by launching a digital vaccine certificate, easily generated on smartphones. But how will Estonia’s e-document work with certificates in other EU countries? And how many advantages should vaccinated people have in the EU this summer over those who have not received the jab?


Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrestles with the practical and moral implications of a digital vaccine certificate. Kallas also touches on relations with Russia, military cooperation with France, and gender balance in Estonian politics.

On the Estonian digital vaccine certificate: “It will work like a boarding pass. Your phone displays green or red, showing if you’ve had the vaccination or not; showing if you have the antibodies or not.  The big question is how different standards are inter-operable with other countries’ vaccination certificates.”

Should vaccinated people have more rights? “At the moment we don’t have enough vaccines for everyone, so is it really right to give more rights to people who have been vaccinated? But I also see it as a way of doing things faster. It doesn’t mean we take rights away from those who aren’t vaccinated; but those who are, get some procedures faster than the others.”

On the risk of a two-speed society in Estonia: “The Estonian state doesn’t force anyone to get vaccinated. But private enterprises compete with each other. Everyone wants to say: ‘Come to our restaurant; you won’t get the disease here!’ We can’t rule out that the private sector will insist on vaccinations because it’s a competitive advantage. We have to discuss the consequences of that.”

On tensions with Russia, and the border agreement: “We signed a border agreement with Russia in 2014 but it’s not ratified by both parliaments. We are definitely ready to go ahead with ratification, but it should happen simultaneously on both sides. When we entered NATO we said clearly that we don’t have any territorial claims.”

On gender balance in Estonian politics: “The picture is changing. Everybody now sees that top posts are for women as well as for men. Women are not in essence better politicians than men and men are not better politicians than women. But we have different life experiences, and in order to make balanced decisions we need to have both represented.”

On Estonia-France military cooperation: “We have become brothers-in-arms with French soldiers in Mali and in the Sahel. The cooperation has worked very well. French soldiers have also been represented in Estonia through NATO forces, and we definitely value this cooperation very much.”

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