EKRE introduces 700 amendment proposals to block EU recovery fund

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Henn Põlluaas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) has entered into Riigikogu proceedings 700 proposals to amend to block the bill to approve the European recovery plan.

"Rumor has it EKRE have blocked the approval of the EU recovery fund that stands to bring Estonia ca €1 billion by putting forward around 700 empty amendment proposals," Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus wrote on social media.

"This speaks of two things. Firstly – EKRE members' ultimate cynicism in trying to stop EU crisis aid that the Estonian economy has been looking forward to. Secondly – complete harmony with the goal recently voiced by EKRE leaders to try and take Estonia out of the European Union. Of course, we will not allow them to paint Estonia into a corner," Pentus-Rosimannus added.

Põlluaas: We will not be able to use the people's money freely

Head of EKRE Riigikogu group Henn Põlluaas told ERR that the recovery fund principle sees the EU move toward federalization and that the package entails various dangers.

"We want the EU to remain a union of sovereign states and for decision-making capacity to remain in member state capitals, which is why we have introduced a host of amendment proposals," Põlluaas explained.

"Every single euro will come with a tag. We will not be able to freely use the money where we most need it and will instead have to comply with the Commission's limitations and targets," he said.

The politician added that because loan money is cheap, Estonia could borrow without EU mediation and on better terms.

"It is a question of the principles agreed upon in the Lisbon Treaty, the capacity of the EU and the European Commission versus that of member states. European founding documents do not allow for this kind of borrowing. All such financial matters belong solely in the jurisdiction of member states," Põlluaas said.

"And secondly, the EU has no right to lay down taxes. What we are seeing, however, is the introduction of a Europe-wide package tax that is in breach of these founding principles. So what that it is referred to as cost-sharing and not a tax there. Basically, we are dealing with a tax."

Põlluaas also pointed to the risk of the Estonian taxpayer having to settle other member states' debts. "If some member states prove unable to service the common loan, the rest will have to pick up the tab."

"We cannot rightly imagine where Estonia could find billions of euros to repay debts that might prove greater than what we stand to receive," Põlluaas remarked.

Põlluaas: 700 proposals to amend completely different than 10,000

When EKRE was still part of the government, the party sharply condemned use of obstruction tactics in the parliament, referring to it as paralyzing the work of the Riigikogu. However, the party wasted no time deploying such tactics upon finding itself in the opposition. Põlluaas said that EKRE's 700 amendment proposals are completely different than tens of thousands previously introduced by the Social Democrats.

"There is a great difference. One would take two years to process, while the other can be done inside a sensible time frame," he said.

"We will only introduce amendment proposals in quantity regarding things that clearly infringe on Estonia's freedom of decision or are contrary to democracy, free speech and freedom of thought in other ways. We will introduce a sensible, limited number of proposals to amend to slow down or reverse these processes," the MP said.

ERR asked Põlluaas what kind of a compromise would see EKRE withdraw its proposals. "We will need to discuss that in the coalition and opposition. Everything is possible," Põlluaas replied.

"We are not there yet today. Today, the coalition is still steamrolling the opposition in all these matters, which means it is the only way for us to make ourselves heard," he added.

The previous coalition of the Center Party, Isamaa and EKRE had to contend with 50,000 amendment proposals by the Social Democratic Party (SDE) to block a bill aimed at liquidating the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK). The Reform Party presented 3,500 and SDE 5,800 amendment proposals to the marriage referendum bill in the winter.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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