Non-Coalition Parties Maintain Opposition to Ratification of ESM
The Centre Party faction reviewed the ESM bill in Parliament today.
( Photo: ERR )
The two opposition parties in Parliament maintained that there were fundamental problems with the ratification bill of the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism, which passed the first reading today.
MPs for the Centre Party proposed the legislation be rejected, and divided into two parts, one being the ratification itself and the other being the treaty's domestic implementation.
Voicing general objections to the treaty, which was deemed constitutional by a narrow majority of the Supreme Court justices in July, MP Jüri Ratas said that ESM should not be rushed.
"In a situation where Estonia's government debt is only 6.6 percent - but our child allowance is 19 euros a month, the average old-age pension is 318 euros per month and one-fifth of the population is living below the poverty line - it is understandable that many people in Estonia take a critical attitude toward lending to more affluent countries," Ratas said in remarks in Parliament.
According to his interpretation, the Supreme Court found that the referendum on joining the EU could only go so far and the people had not consented to delegating additional national powers to the EU.
Ratas noted that many countries in the EU were, essentially, slouches when it came to public finances, and emphasized that the Maastricht criteria could not just be one-time conditions upon joining the EU. "All member states must proceed from them daily," Ratas said.
For the Social Democrats, MPs argued that the draft law was unconstitutional as is, and that unless it were amended the party could not vote for it.
Rannar Vassiljev, deputy chairman of the Finance Committee, said that the bill was "steeped" with a position Vassiljev attributed to the finance minister, Jürgen Ligi: that ESM matters were a rarefied preserve not up for public debate.
"This has resulted in as many legal acts as possible being brought to the level of the European Affairs Committee instead of plenary session, which is in conflict with constitutional parliamentary rules of order and procedure," he said in a statement to the media.
The draft legislation, he said, empowers the Cabinet to decide selectively what should be sent to committee or to the general session. Nor is the Cabinet obliged to consider the position of either instance, according to Vassiljev.
The Social Democrats say that a host of amendments to the draft legislation is forthcoming.
The second reading will take place on August 30.
The ESM is funded to 700 billion euros, with Estonia's contribution totaling 1.3 billion. If the treaty is passed, Estonia would be obliged to pay 149 million euros into the fund and guarantee another 1.15 billion euros in loans.