Estonia's Highest Ranking Eurocrat on MEP Elections, Domestic Issues
Henrik Hololei, who was recently promoted to the post of the European Commission's deputy secretary-general, said that the upcoming EP elections are likely to see more populists, and radicals on both the left and right.
Speaking on ETV's “Välisilm” program on Monday, Hololei said that the traditional right, left and liberal parties will lose seats in the European Parliament after the May elections, which will in turn mean that those parties will become more populist in order to draw in voters.
He said that the three largest groups will still retain their majority, but the most important question is whether the European People's Party (EPP), the conservative bloc, will lose to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).
Of the six Estonian MEPs, IRL's Tunne Kelam is part of the EPP block, Ivari Padar joined the Socialists and Democrats, Independent Indrek Tarand is part of the Greens-European Free Alliance. The other three - two Center Party MEPs, who have both quit their Estonian parties, and Kristiina Ojuland, who was ejected from the Reform Party - are all members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, EP's third largest party.
Gazprom, Estonian Air and shale oil
Hololei said that Estonia has three "burning questions" that have been submitted to EU authorities, of which Gazprom's pricing policy has a January 14 deadline.
He said that the Russian energy giant has been asked to change its policy of charging different EU states different prices by January 14. Hololei added that the company is unlikely to comply and the European Commission could draw its conclusions during autumn.
Speaking about Estonia's state aid to national carrier Estonian Air, Hololei said that the European Commission currently has a number of cases of state aid to aviation companies to analyze and Estonian Air is not the most urgent case.
The third question is the proposed EU fuel directive, which would ban liquid fuels with a large carbon footprint, including Estonian-produced shale oil.
Hololei said that there has been little progress in talks on the directive, but the topic will rise again at the EU-US trade talks.