Prime minister confident in Tartu University EU analysis, EKRE not so much

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas speaking at an earlier government press conference.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas speaking at an earlier government press conference. Source: ERR

Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) says recent analysis conducted at the University of Tartu (TÜ) and which says the European Union's €750-billion coronavirus recovery deal does not violate any of its treaties should alleviate domestic political tensions. Members of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), in office together with Ratas' party, have questioned the analysis, however.

As reported on ERR News, the analysis which TÜ, and its associate professor in European law Carri Ginter conducted, and which was commissioned by the government, found the EU's €750-billion economic recovery plan was not likley to breach any of its own treaties.

Speaking to ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Tuesday evening, Jüri Ratas said that the EU plan's legal basis had already been assessed by the European Commission.

The purpose of the analysis was to bring clarity to the matter, the prime minister added.

"My perception was that it was in line with treaties, and when we were together at the last Council of the European Union, the issue did not really arise, because the European Commission, for example, had already given its legal assessments," the Prime Minister told AK.

Ratas added that TÜ's analysis should also alleviate domestic political tensions regarding the EU plan, under which the European Commission aims to borrow € 750 billion to relaunch the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, across the union, split roughly 50-50 between grants and loan aid.

Many EU member states, predominantly in the northern half of the union, have opposed the use of grants, preferring to stick primarily to loans. Italy and Spain, worst-hit by the pandemic so far, would get the largest aid packages under the terms of the package, sparking claims of iniquity.

Carri Ginter reiterated his stance that the recovery plan does not transgress treaty norms.

"These are acceptable measures in the economic field, these programs are aimed at the Member States to carry out restructuring /.../, for example, to achieve better, cleaner energy," Ginter told AK.

EKRE leadership sceptical about analysis

EKRE leading members have been most vocal in opposing the package so far.

Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said that further analysis was needed, but said Tuesday that he had not read TÜ's analysis.

"I haven't been able to read the analysis, so I can't comment further," he said, adding that his impression was the conclusion the analysis came up with had been sought after in any case.

EKRE's sole MEP Jaak Madison disagrees with the idea that the loan/grant package unequivocally does not conflict with EU treaties.

"Dr Carri Ginter says that because there is so little information and it is such a general agreement - agreed by the Council of Europe or the heads of government - it is very difficult to make an accurate assessment, but that it is likely to be in line with the Treaty. But perhaps it is equally not likely to be compatible with treaties, "Madison told AK.

Speaking to AK, Carri Ginter had also stressed his view of the importance that both member states and the union as a whole share responsibilities, and that each member state pledges to pay its share of the EU budget as agreed and does same with loans.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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