Kallas to European Council chief: New government will cooperate with EU

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Incoming prime minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), symbolically picking up the baton from Jüri Ratas (Center) as prime minister Tuesday. Source: Raul Mee

New Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says her coalition is pro-European Union and intends to participate with the organization to its fullest.

Talking to President of the European Council Charles Michel on the phone Tuesday night, the day she was sworn in as premier, Kallas told Michel that: "Our goal is to play an active role in, for example, resolving the COVID-19 crisis, as well as cooperating in the fight against climate change, and also in leading the digital development and improving the European internal market."

Kallas stressed that overcoming the COVID-19 crisis was a primary goal for the Government.

"This includes both vaccination and the restarting of the economy as soon as possible,' she said, according to a government office press release.

COVID-19 vaccine procurement pan-EU process

As an EU member state, Estonia's coronavirus vaccine acquisition program is centralized around the union's procurement process.

Kallas also recognized Michel's work in coordinating the resolution of the COVID-19 crisis between EU Member States, in particular in maintaining EU coherence and ensuring access to vaccines.

She expressed hope that the supply of vaccines would increase soon, and also said she considered it important to maintain and strengthen free movement within the EU during the pandemic.

Earlier in the month, then social affairs, now health and labor minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said that deliveries of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, centrally procured by the EU, would be about half that expected, at least in following week (i.e. last week – ed.).

In one of his last official functions as prime minister, Jüri Ratas (Center) expressed his concerns on vaccine supplies to the European Council, during an online, off-schedule, virtual meeting last Thursday evening.

Kallas: 2050 climate neutrality goal important

Kallas also mentioned the achievement of climate neutrality in Estonia by 2050 as an important goal for the Government.

"We need to take care that the timeline for the transition would be realistic and affordable for all, and also ensure equal opportunities for our businesses trading on the global market,' Kallas said, adding she was looking forward to a more detailed discussion of the issues at member state level.

The previous administration, which collapsed following the resignation of Jüri Ratas (Center) as prime minister earlier in the month, had contained notably eurosceptic elements.

According to U.S. politics portal Politico, Ratas, together with his Latvian counterpart and the Lithuanian president, authored a letter petitioning president of the Council of the EU, Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa, to give funds of €1.4 billion presumed to be earmarked for the high-speed Rail Baltica link, which will traverse all three states, the go-ahead. The alternative if that were not the case, the letter read, might be to hold up the process of issuing €750 billion in coronavirus relief funds, a move which requires the consent of all member states.

Prime minister: Fiscal balance also a goal

Kaja Kallas also told Charles Michel that the goal of moving towards fiscal balance as soon as possible was in place, and that she considered the financial sustainability of the whole euro area important.

While Kallas' party, Reform, has traditionally seen balanced budgets as a virtual dogma, the former Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition generally favored borrowing, particularly once the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Foreign policy and potential further EU sanctions on Russia for as long as opposition leader Alexei Navalny remains incarcerated were also on the table during Kallas' conversation with Charles Michel, the government office says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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