Five of Estonia's six elected MEPs stated ahead of Wednesday's vote that they intended to support the confirmation of the next European Commission in a vote on Wednesday. Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MEP Jaak Madison alone promised to vote against it.
"I will vote in favor," MEP Marina Kaljurand (SDE/S&D) told ERR. "All of the commissioners have undergone hearings and received the approval of the European Parliament's [committees]. Now it is time to provide our political support to the European Commission so that it can begin work. I hope that all sides involved learned something from the processes involved in hearing commissioners and that these will be taken into account when the new Commission is formed in 2024."
"I will vote in favor of confirming the new European Commission," MEP Andrus Ansip (Reform/Renew) said. "It is regrettable that the new Commission wasn't able to begin work by its scheduled date of Nov. 1."
Himself a former vice-president of the European Commission and ex-prime minister of Estonia, Ansip recalled that the European Parliament does not have the right to legislative initiative, and that bills to be considered are drawn up by the European Commission.
"If there's no new Commission, there are no bills, and thus the new makeup of the European Parliament is not being fully applied either," he said, adding that delaying the start of work of the new Commission certainly won't have a positive effect on the European economy either.
"It's incredibly unfortunate that there have been no commissioners from Estonia or Romania in the European Commission for five months already," Ansip continued. "Commissioners represent the interests of Europe as a whole, not just their own country. But based on the treaties, the Commission makes its best decisions when it consists of commissioners from all member states. It is in the interests of Estonia and the entire EU that the new Commission begin work as soon as possible. Which is why I will vote in favor of confirming the new European Commission."
MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/Renew) likewise said he intends to support the appointment of the new European Commission.
"All candidates for the Commission underwent thorough hearings in the European Parliament," Paet said, explaining why he will be voting yes. "The candidate for Commission president has a pretty clear agenda of issues that the Commission needs to start handling immediately. The EU needs a new Commission with a clear mandate, and quickly, because there are many issues the delaying of which is bad for Europe."
Toom, Mikser put aside reservations
"Of course I'm in favor — going headless for an extended period of time is not good for the EU," said MEP Yana Toom (Centre/Renew). "Of course I'd like to complain about what the 'protection of the European way of life' or what exactly the Croatian commissioner's tasks will be, but these arguments won't make anything better. So let's get the Commission into office and focus on working out an adequate agenda with which to move forward. And finally together with an Estonian commissioner."
MEP Sven Mikser (SDE/S&D) said that he would vote in favor of the new Commission despite certain reservations regarding a few individual Commission members and portfolios. He highlighted as worrisome the fact that the enlargement and EU neighborhood policy portfolio was given to the Hungarian commissioner and the fact that the French commissioner, who was assigned the internal market portfolio, has too broad of a sphere of administration.
"I find it important that the European Commission be able to begin work half a year after the European Parliament was elected," Mikser said, adding that this was also important because it would allow the European Parliament to focus all of its energy on its primary work.
"Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised an ambitious program in the fields of the environment and social security but also in the digital and defense fields," Mikser continued. "I hope that the Parliament supports the Commission's agenda, but is also capable of providing effective oversight over the implementation thereof over the next five years."
MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE/ID), however, promised to vote against the new Commission, as he finds that the European Commission and its new leader are prioritizing EU interests over those of its member states.
"The European Commission's new president Ursula von der Leyen has been a strong federalist in her EU policy visions, whose wish is to introduce European Commission-controlled migration policy and a utopian climate policy that would weaken member states' economic systems," Madison said. "The European Commission by nature attempts to act like the government of a commonwealth but does not have a democratic mandate for doing so and the motivation for whose activity is not the interests of its member states, but the prevailing interests of the European Union."
Von der Leyen introduced the agenda of the new European Commission to a plenary of the European Parliament on Wednesday morning, which was followed by a discussion.
New Commission confirmed
The European Parliament voted in favor of confirming the new European Commission on Wednesday, with 461 MEPs in favor, 157 against and 89 abstentions.
The new Commission must begin work on Dec. 1.
The new Commission does not include a representative of the United Kingdom, as the British government, which has decided to pursue Brexit, refused to appoint one, citing approaching elections. The EU has launched infringement proceedings against the U.K. for its failure to nominate a candidate for commissioner.
Von der Leyen, who has previously served as defense minister in Germany, will be taking over leadership of the European Commission from Jean-Claude Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, who offered his successor his congratulations on Wednesday afternoon.
Kadri Simson (Centre) will serve as Estonia's next commissioner.
Editor: Aili Vahtla