European Commissioners Visit Tallinn, Discuss Economic Situation ({{commentsTotal}})

European Commissioner Olli Rehn
European Commissioner Olli Rehn Source: Photo: ERR

The European commissioners for transport and economic affairs, Siim Kallas and Olli Rehn, were in Tallinn on Saturday for a discussion held by the Estonian office of the European Commission.

The event's theme was the economic future of the EU, covering issues such as the common transport network and EU-US free trade developments.

Rehn spoke optimistically about the economic environment.

"There are signs that the European economy has reached a turning point. Data for the second quarter of this year have confirmed the beginning of gradual albeit subdued, modest recovery in the Eurozone," Rehn said.

Speaking about the EU budget compiling process, Kallas said the system was getting increasingly "crazy," due to internal economic imbalance within the union and a system in which rich countries tend to support the poorer ones. Without giving alternatives, he said the status quo is unsustainable and that he couldn't imagine continuing with the current terms in the next seven-year financial period.

"Despite what we might expect, the European person does not move around nearly as much as in the US," Kallas said. Language barriers and differing education systems are to blame, he said.

Kallas also touched on the paradox whereby Europeans demand a strong EU but even stronger member states. This has led to a weak EU, such as in the case of the common digital market, he said.

"It is important to find a balance, but clarity as well: if something is given to EU competency, it must be accepted by the member states," said Kallas.

"But that does not mean I am proposing to implement across the whole of Europe a common speed limit or a standard accepted blood-alcohol level for drivers," he said.

Still, the union has managed to implement major reforms in dire situations, he said. "When things get serious, a common language is found quickly. The EU has vigorously made decisions in unison, which was unthinkable before 2008."

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