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Case study May 26th, 2016

Estonia grants EU funds efficiently to develop the country

Read below how the management information system of European structural and investment funds helps to ensure grants to essential sectors in Estonia.

SFOS is an European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) management information system created by Nortal for the Estonian Ministry of Finance. By unifying the grants application process for 8 EU Funds implementing agencies and for EU Fund applicants in Estonia, the system has helped to implement EU funds grants in Estonia much more efficiently.

Estonia has gained one of the lowest administration cost ratios of managing Structural and Investment Funds compared to other EU member states.

Centralizing information about most projects that utilize ESIF money

Operating since 2004 SFOS is the longest running e-Government ongoing development project in Estonia, that centralizes information about most projects that utilize ESIF money, with the only exception being agricultural subsidies. Structural assistance is channeled to essential sectors in terms of state development, i.e. energy economy, environment protection, healthcare and welfare, entrepreneurship etc. Since 2004, the system has distributed more than 6 billion euros in more than 26 800 EU projects and more than 110M euros in Norway grants.*

This unified system has eased the grant application process considerably for both officials and applicants and reduced the risk of errors, e.g. double financing. Currently e-payments can be delivered to the end user already within 2-3 checks, including all necessary validations.

*As of March 2020


SFOS consists of the three following parts:

Official’s side

for processing applications and payments

Reporting side

for tracking pre-defined reports and performing ad-hoc queries

Applicant’s side

for applying for grants


All this simplifies the processes for both officials and applicants.  About 7 hours per application is saved by the new back-office system for implementing agencies. When considering thousands of applications, it is an immense time-saving. About 2 hours per application is saved by the new self-service portal for the applicants and it’s consider-ably more comfortable for them.

It has made Estonia very cost-efficient in the distribution of structural and investment funds. With 2 cents for every euro received in Estonia the cost of paying out one euro is among the lowest in EU.* Moreover, in 2014 the rate of error in structural and investment funds distribution was 0,13% with an European Union average of 5,7%. This is a 44 times difference. SFOS has enabled to achieve this.

*Calculation based on the period 2007-2013


billion euros


almost 27 000 EU projects


euros in Norway grants

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