According to the Law of the Government of the Republic, there are 11 ministries in Estonia, and with the prime minister, the Minister of Regional Affairs and a minister without portfolio, there are 15 ministers in total. All fields of executive power are divided into responsibilities of the ministries. A minister is responsible to the parliament, meaning that he or she has to answer when called to account, is obliged by the government to participate in readings of proposals and other discussions, and, within the limits of his/her responsibilities, has to represent Estonia in shaping the policies of the EU.

A minister heads a ministry autonomously and is solely responsible for it. The prime minister and other ministers have no right to interfere in a minister’s field of responsibility. When the prime minister decides that a minister is not acting in accordance with the goals of the government as a whole, he/she has the right to make a proposal to the President of the Republic to remove the minister from office.

A minister is the head of a ministry. It’s debatable as to whether the political and everyday activities of a ministry should be separated, with a chancellor responsible for the latter. Chancellors of ministries, as well as county governors who, according to their responsibilities, lead establishments of national regional management – county governments – are, in practice, strongly dependent on the cooperation of the respective minister or, in the case of county governors, the Minister of Regional Affairs and the government. When the collaboration doesn’t work out, both chancellors and county governors can be removed from office with no justification required. Also, their terms of office are limited to five years. After the status of a county governor and a chancellor changes, their actual roles change, too. Most such officials are members of political parties and are generally appointed by the parties that constitute the ruling coalition in the government.

Other officials of a ministry, with the exceptions of advisers of the ministers and vice-ministers, are independent public servants, with rights guaranteed in the Public Service Act.

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