The Reform Party had already proposed finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as the next European Court of Auditors (ECA) representative from Estonia while the Reform-Center coalition was in office, Center's leader Jüri Ratas says.
Ratas said Tuesday that: "I have had a conversation on this topic with the prime minister at her initiative on several occasions, ie. whether the-then coalition partner Center would support Keit Pentus-Rosimannus' candidacy for the ECA."
"Since this was not agreed upon at the time of the-then coalition was born, she consequently did not get the approval as candidate by the Center Party at the time," Ratas went on.
Pentus-Rosimannus' candidacy was announced last week, to replace Juhan Parts, whose term finishes at the end of this year.
However, an opinion piece by Steven Hristo Evestus which appeared on ERR's Estonian-language portal claimed that proper procedures had not been followed, with reference to more than one piece of legislation; whereas the ECA post is the decision of the finance minister, the latter also cannot propose themselves.
The workaround here, Evestus said, was by getting rural affairs minister Urmas Kruuse (Reform) to deputize for Pentus-Rosimannus, which he did briefly while the latter was out-of-country, at an EU finance ministers' meeting – the principle of deputizing on its own is in-line with the regulations.
Ratas said: "I really hope that these things are as the Reform Party members have said, that things are legally correct and that the current Minister of Finance has not influenced the preparation of this process, let alone its decision. I do not have the documentation, I only have the word of the Reform Party politicians, who have said that there are no issues."
As to the previous coalition, in office from January 2021 to June this year, Ratas said that since the two parties did not agree on Pentus-Rosimannus' candidacy, there was no point in bringing it to the table, while the Reform-Center coalition had in any case agreed not to hold votes at government sessions, Ratas said.
While Ratas did discuss the issue with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), since he was not a part of the government himself – Ratas is Riigikogu speaker – he did not know if it was raised at cabinet level.
Current ECA representative from Estonia Juhan Parts' term ends on December 31. Former President Kersti Kaljulaid previously held the post, from soon after Estonia's accession to the EU in 2004 until becoming president in 2016.
Editor: Andrew Whyte