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The issue of the candidate for European Commissioner as a matter of significant national importance was discussed today at the Riigikogu. Speeches were made by the Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Arto Aas, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, and candidate for European Commissioner Andrus Ansip

Aas gave an overview of the discussions that have been conducted in the Riigikogu so far on the issue of European Commissioner candidates. He explained that it was the European Union practice that the national governments and not the parliaments chose the candidate. “This should avoid a possible institutional conflict between the European Parliament and national parliaments. The decision making process of the government is also generally quicker and more flexible,” Aas explained. In his words, the European Union Affairs Committee had decided to bring the topic to the plenary sitting this time. “Following the relevant decision by the Cabinet, we had a meeting with Andrus Ansip in our Committee on 6 June. The meeting was productive and fruitful in every aspect,” said Aas. 

Rõivas emphasised that a European Commissioner is one of the most powerful official positions for which Estonia can propose its candidate. “Under the law, the duty and the competence of designating a candidate lies with the government, but I am very happy that the parliament has taken the initiative and is using this opportunity to generate a debate on European issues,” Rõivas said. He added that although the government would designate a candidate, it would not give them any authorisations or any other guidelines. The rules also deny this possibility to the Riigikogu, before as well as after the appointment. “Commissioner must be independent from external pressure and must serve the interests of Europe as a whole, which also includes Estonia,” Rõivas said. He shared his thoughts on what he would expect from the new leaders of the European institutions in his capacity as Prime Minister. “My first wish is that the Member States as well as the European Union stay on the course of structural reforms. The political orientation towards the stability of the Eurozone must continue, and the Commission must not show an ounce of tolerance for breach of budget rules,” said Rõivas. He thinks that the Commission should continue linking European energy, communication and transport systems and relevant markets. In order to restore the economic growth, both the services market and the digital market must be opened up and developed. A common trans-Atlantic economic space must also be created between Europe and America. And, last but not least, it is not possible to by-pass the issue of security. “New European leaders must be able to draw adequate conclusions from the crises on the other side of the Southern and Eastern borders of Europe,” Rõivas stressed. 

Ansip explained that if he should be entrusted with the position of a member of the Commission, he hopes to contribute towards making sure that the decisions of the Commission strengthen the internal and the external security of the European Union. He sees three main directions of work. “The first is guaranteeing the energy independence of the European Union. Secondly, democratic development trends and increased wellbeing should be supported in our neighbourhood. Thirdly, economy and common market must be strengthened. Economic standstill, unemployment and hopelessness prepare the ground for the spreading of extremist views. We have by far not taken full advantage of all the opportunities offered by the common market in a way which would give a stronger push towards economic development and creation of jobs,” said Ansip. He added that developing the common digital market was the first priority here. It is also important to create a cross-border infrastructure which would allow the potential of the common market to be used and free trade agreements to be concluded with the major trading partners of the European Union, Ansip explained. 

Ansip answered numerous questions which were raised in the course of the discussion by representatives of all the factions. 

Arto Aas, Karel Rüütli, Ester Tuiksoo and Tiit Tammsaar took the floor during the debate. 

The Riigikogu Press Service