Speaking in an emergency telephone meeting on Monday, the Estonian government confirmed Pro Patria and Res Publica (IRL) MP Juhan Parts as its candidate for the Estonian seat in the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
Commenting on the government’s decision, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said that reaching a consensus was inevitable in the current stage.
"I have said earlier as well that Juhan Parts is a strong candidate for this office," said Rõivas. "The mere fact that this is a former prime minister speaks in his favor, and what adds even more weight is the fact that Parts has been Minister of Economic Affairs and Auditor General."
According to IRL Chairman and Minister of Social Protection Margus Tsahkna, it is important that the government was able to reach a consensus. "I’d like to acknowledge my partners for their constructive attitude," said Tsahkna. "Now it is important to concentrate on internal policy decisions."
Ossinovski: Social dems took a step back
Chairman of the previously hindering Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski said that while the Social Democrats still have their doubts about Juhan Parts’ suitability for the position, any further delays in the decision would have been a blow to Estonia’s credibility on the international level.
"A vacated position must be filled and in this case we met our partners halfway," explained Ossinovski.
Justifying the change of heart on social media, Ossinovski wrote, "As the Reform Party and IRL’s joint union on this issue is unbreakable, we decided to take a step back so that Estonia could continue to move forward."
The SDE chairman pointed out that the issue of naming Estonia’s new member of the ECA had been on the agenda for nearly a year already. During this entire year, IRL and Reform have unequivocally and rigidly supported Juhan Parts’ candidacy," he noted. "I have said that Juhan Parts is not a suitable candidate for this position. I have asked the prime minister to find a new candidate. If the [coalition] partners had proposed a new candidate in the spring, the issue would have long since been resolved. No new candidate came, although consensual governing logic would have expected one."
Parts prepares for interviews in the European Parliament
Juhan Parts told ERR that he plans to seriously prepare for the interviews to take place in the European Parliament.
"This wasn’t among the fastest of decisions, but who knows what this delay may have been good for," noted Parts. "It may be possible to see the positive [in it] as well."
The endorsement of a new Estonian candidate to the ECA was held up in the Estonian government as the ruling coalition’s Social Democrats did not agree that former Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Affairs and Auditor General Juhan Parts was fit to be Estonia’s representative to the ECA. As a result, the appointment of a new representative was delayed months past its deadline and became unavoidable once Kersti Kaljulaid, who had been traveling between Estonia and Luxembourg since spring to continue filling the role, was elected the next president of Estonia last week.
The ECA representative appointed by Estonia must successfully pass interviews in the European Parliament before being formally appointed to the office by the European Council.
Juhan Parts served as Estonia’s Auditor General from 1998-2002 and as Prime Minister from 2003-2005 before serving as Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications from 2007-2011.
Tiina Kangro set to replace Parts in Riigikogu
If and when Parts is appointed to the European Court of Auditors, fellow IRL member Tiina Kangro is already set to take his place in the Riigikogu.
Kangro herself told ERR, however, that she would not confirm her new position as MP until Parts was actually appointed to his new position first.
"The Estonian people themselves have expressed doubts about whether Parts even knows how to count eggs in a carton; let's wait for the decision from Brussels," said Kangro, who admitted she herself was very busy with work at the moment.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla