Coalition talks update: border build-up, focus on volunteers (1)

(ERR)
3/11/2015 10:17 AM
Category: Politics

The four parties at the negotiations table have moved on to discussing internal security, all four agreeing that the top priority is building up Estonia's eastern border.

The parties also agreed that state defense classes should be made available to all high school pupils and more focus be placed on volunteers.

The Free Party's pledge to restore the border guard as an independent force was rejected but the three larger parties agreed that the eastern border should be strengthened, regardless of whether Russia ratifies the border treaty or not. The treaty, once ratified by both sides, will shift the border slightly, but it will largely remain the same.

The coalition talks have already closed on defense, with all parties ready to continue with the current policy of NATO integration and keeping defense spending at 2 percent of GDP.

Economic topics, up next in the talks, are likely to be a far harder nut to crack. The Reform Party has ruled out switching to a progressive tax system and is opposed to increasing tax and implementing tax on business profits. The Social Democrats support a system of different social tax levels and IRL prefers a higher tax-free minimum.

Talks will now also focus on economic growth, which, according to freshly released figures, increased from 0.8 to 2.1 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and on how to curb red tape.

The Reform Party won the elections and will have 30 seat of the 101 seats in the Parliament. The Social Democrats have 15, IRL 14 and the Free Party 8 seats. This means that, in theory, any of the last three parties can walk out or be ruled out of the coalition, which will still keep a majority in the Parliament.

The Center Party has 27 and EKRE 7 seats in the current opposition.

J.M. Laats

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