Coalition plans to increase transparency in political processes

Kaja Kallas and Mailis Reps on January 21.
Kaja Kallas and Mailis Reps on January 21. Source: ERR

The Reform-Center coalition wants to make policy-making more transparent and plans to draft legislation to do so, negotiators said after Thursday's discussions. This includes looking into the funding sources of policy-making NGOs, establishing guidelines over conflicts of interest and making ministers' advisers declare their interests.

On Thursday corruption prevention was discussed between the Reform and Center parties' negotiators.

Speaking at a press conference in the evening, Chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas said: "We are developing guidelines for ministers to avoid conflicts of interest, we will come up with a bill that also stipulates that ministers' advisers must declare their interests so that the picture is public and clear."

The coalition also wants funding to NGOs involved in policy-making to be scrutinized, just as funding to political parties currently is.

"The question is where their money comes from if it clearly influences political processes," Kallas said. "If we know who the funders are, then the picture becomes clearer in that regard - where the ideas are coming from, whether they are somehow biased, what the decision-making process is - that is the goal."

She said drawing a line where politics begins or ends is very difficult and the coalition plans to work with organizations such as the anti-corruption civil society body Transparency International Estonia (Koruptsioonivaba Eesti) and other officials.

Lobbying and lobbyists have not yet been addressed but deputy chairman of the Center Party Mailis Reps said it will be in the future. First, it requires defining who is a lobbyist.

"The disclosure of political processes is good for the functioning of society at large. We agreed that we will increase transparency," Kallas said, confirming this will means changes to the law.

In addition, there are plans to expand the role and capacity of the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK). Currently, the ERJK can only look at parties' costs but in the future it could look at what else parties are doing, Kallas said. This could mean involving officials such as the Chancellor of Justice and the State Audit Office.

Reps said the ERJK role could also be broadened to include electoral alliances, donations from abroad and anonymous donors, all of which need more transparency. "How far and to what extent, we did not discuss today," she said.

Drafting policy and legislation will also become more transparent and a wider group of officials will be able to comment and suggest changes, Kallas said.

Previously, the Center-EKRE-Isamaa coalition had planned to scrap the ERJK.

Coalition hope to take office on Tuesday

Reps said the negotiations are coming to a close and the coalition agreement is almost complete. "We're already moving on to more practical and general, people-related topics," she said.

Members of the government are expected to be selected by the beginning of next week.

Kallas hopes the new government will receive a mandate from parliament and take office on Tuesday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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