Opinion Festival | MEPs looked for solutions to coronavirus crisis

MEPs debate at the Opinion Festival in Paide.
MEPs debate at the Opinion Festival in Paide. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Members of the European Parliament criticized Estonia's handling of the coronavirus crisis and tried to answer the question of where the EU will land after the crisis at the Opinion Festival in Paide.

Participants included Andrus Ansip (Reform Party, Renew Europe Group), Marina Kaljurand (Social Democratic Party, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Jaak Madison (Conservative People's Party, Identity and Democracy Group), Sven Mikser (Social Democratic Party, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Urmas Paet (Reform Party, Renew Europe Group).

Marina Kaljurand said she is relatively critical of the European Union's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccination, suggesting there are major and obvious differences between member states, with Estonia rather trailing the pack.

"The EU cannot be viewed only in terms of how many doses of vaccine we supplied, how many doses we have stockpiled. For me, the criteria that matter are how many people are vaccinated and how quickly, as well as how long before we can return to some semblance of normal life," Kaljurand said.

Sven Mikser said Estonia could have better used the time it had since the crisis began. That Estonia's level of preparedness should have been much higher by the time vaccines became available. Messages encouraging people to immunize themselves should have been much clearer, more united and appeared much sooner.

Mikser added that the pandemic cannot be defeated until major parts of the world, whether India or Africa, remain completely unvaccinated.

Andrus Ansip recalled that Estonia's vaccination pace was among the fastest in Europe from mid-April to mid-May, saying that we were among equals or even on top for a time. "But things headed downhill from there and we started stockpiling vaccines instead of administering them. We currently occupy 20-21st position that is not to Estonia's credit," the MEP said.

The panelists also discussed coronavirus measures, with Jaak Madison offering that the Office of the Chancellor of Justice should put together an analysis in terms of how far certain measures could be taken before breach of fundamental rights becomes unbearable.

Urmas Paet said that it is now necessary to think several months ahead, including considering third vaccine doses that some countries are already administering. "While it is possible and necessary to voice criticism, people forget that the EU can only do what member states allow it to do," Paet said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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