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The Political Economy of E-Residency

Project description

Weighing in on Estonia’s e-Residency programme

Estonia is the first country in the world to establish an e-Residency programme. Launched in 2015 as a pilot project, it has since opened the country’s digital services up to more than 40 000 foreigners. Some 6 700 new e-companies have been created. The EU-funded PEER project will dig deep into Estonia’s programme to evaluate its impact and also consider whether it should be a new solution to the governance challenges of the EU's Digital Single Market. The aim is to further the academic and policy-level debate.The results will be important not only for Estonia but also more broadly to the EU.


In 2015, Estonia launched its e-residency program that gave foreigners the ability to apply for a digital residency in Estonia, even if they don't live in the country. At the time of writing, more than 40,000 people have obtained e-residency. Moreover, these e-residents have established nearly 6,700 companies in Estonia, benefiting from Estonian business-friendly tax laws, access to online payment systems, and so forth. Recently, a small number of academic papers have emerged that discuss the governance and business aspects of e-residency. However, most of the key texts have been authored by civil servants, and there has been a lack of analyses on how the e-residency initiative shapes the broader global political economy. Some of the crucial questions are as follows: How does the proliferation of e-residency program impact the EU-level efforts of international tax cooperation, as well as the concept of economic citizenship that underlies the international tax system? Should the e-residency initiative be seen as a new solution to the governance challenges of the EU's Digital Single Market, or does it rather accelerate international race to the bottom in business regulation? How does the initiative alter the self-perception of both Estonian government and the entrepreneurs that use e-residency? By analyzing the broader political economy of the initiative, the PEER project carries a potential for significant academic and policy-level contributions. Utilizing interviews, textual sources and financial statement analysis, the project focuses both on the governance side of the initiative and its users. The result will be a broad-ranging, inter-disciplinary inquiry into a phenomenon that may have potential to transform the concept of citizenship. The results will have high policy-relevance not only in Estonia, but also within the European Union, as well as in those EU member states that are allegedly considering implementing similar initiatives.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 154 193,28
Ehitajate tee 5
12616 Tallinn

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Eesti Eesti Põhja-Eesti
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00