Estonia approaching welfare society, former EU commissioner Kallas says ({{commentsTotal}})

Siim Kallas who left his post as the Vice President of the European Commission last year, said at the Estonian Independence Day reception that the life in his homeland has improved remarkably since he left for Brussels in 2004.

“The living standards and the general environment start to approach the rich welfare societies of Western countries – there are not too many concerns, problems, and tension,” Kallas said to online news portal Delfi. “And if I compare it with Belgium, then the public services are much better organized in Estonia.”

But Kallas conceded that it's a “one million dollar question” how to catch up with Finland and other Western countries in terms of economic wealth. “It was our aim 20 years ago and it should remain our purpose now.” Kallas added that the Estonian economy is currently growing faster than the Finnish one, but it's a matter of concern that some of the countries that are already wealthy, such as Sweden and Ireland, have economies that grow faster, making it difficult for Estonia to catch up.

Kallas, who accepted the visiting scholar's position at the University of Tartu Europe college recently, said that he teaches his students to understand the “big picture and be more conceptual”. “It seems to me that there has been too much emphasis on superficial information and knowledge which fails to take into account the long-term processes, it hasn't been very conceptual. I will try to explain about processes that actually lead us somewhere,” Kallas said.

Kallas added that all schools should encourage students to analyze and question more, in order to enable them to take advantage of the information that is widely available.

Editor: S. Tambur



Siim Kallas.

Interview: Siim Kallas on ambitions, Estonian politics, and EU presidency

Following the local elections in October this year, Reform Party founder, former prime minister, EU commissioner, and presidential candidate Siim Kallas took on the job of municipal mayor of Viimsi, a community on the outskirts of Tallinn. In his interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Kallas talks about local government, his party, the EU presidency, and perspectives in Estonian politics.

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