Taavi Rõivas concurs on Andrus Ansip's European Commissioner vision

Taavi Rõivas (left) with Andrus Ansip.
Taavi Rõivas (left) with Andrus Ansip. Source: Jürgen Randma / Government Office.

Former Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas says he agrees with an assessment from his own immediate predecessor, current MEP Andrus Ansip, who said that the next European Commissioner should have extensive experience in executive office. Rõivas ruled himself out of the post, or any return to politics, at this time, however.

Rõivas also expressed pleasure over the apparent full return to ascendancy of the Reform Party, out-of-office November 2016 to January 2021, and without a doubt the main victor in the Riigikogu elections earlier this month.

Ansip, who was prime minister of Estonia 2005-2014, during the last major economic downturn and also overseeing Estonia's accession to the euro, said Estonia's current European Commissioner, Kadri Simson (Center) has not been very visible in the role to date.

Simson holds the energy portfolio.

Rõivas, who immediately succeeded Ansip as prime minister, and was in office to November 2016, said: "I fully agree with Andrus Ansip's assessment."

Both are members of the Reform Party, and former party leaders. Ansip was European Commissioner prior to becoming an MEP after the 2019 European elections.

Rõivas added that: "As has been seen before, both Ansip himself and [former Reform prime minister and Ansip's predecessor as European Commissioner] Siim Kallas were significantly more visible in this role, and were more well received than the current commissioner. Yes, this logic holds true."

Nonetheless, he ruled himself out as a potential future commissioner.

"Many thanks for this offer, but it is likely no secret that I have now left politics and am active in business. I have enough challenges to deal with at the moment. I am certainly not thinking about returning to politics," Rõvas went on.

"I'm flattered that you're thinking about me, but right now I don't have any plans like that," he added.

Rõivas also declined to put forward any potential names that, in his opinion, might be suitable for Estonia's next commissioner.

"Oi," he went on. "I don't want to get involved in this. I'm not even aware of any agreement on which party they might come from has been reached, at any point. I can certainly see quite a few strong candidates from the Reform Party, but I don't want to start speculating on the matter. Let's leave the discussions to those people who are active in politics."

Rõivas, also former party chair, added that both as a party member and as a citizen of Estonia, he supports Reform's activities, and expressed strong satisfaction at its recent performance in the Riigikogu elections, where the party picked up 37 seats (up three from its previous total).

"Support for Reform probably exceeded the majority of people's expectation, so I am very happy about that. I also have very high hopes for the new government. We currently have a rather rare opportunity to do quite a lot of important things," he went on.

"The context is favorable in many ways, and I am sure that under Kaja Kallas' leadership, it is also being handled nicely. In that sense, both as a member of the political party and an Estonian citizen, I am satisfied and I do not see the slightest need to interfere in things myself. I can see that the people who are currently on duty within the Reform Party are doing their jobs very well," Rõivas added.

Rõivas quit politics in 2020, meaning that he did not run in the recent elections, and is now working at driverless vehicle tech firm Auve Tech.

Reform is in ongoing coalition negotiations with Eesti 200 and the Social Democrats (SDE), a lineup which would have a pretty healthy 60 seats at the 101-member Riigikogu.

Reform reentered office with SDE last July, while for Eesti 200 this is all new, as the party won its first seats on March 5.

SDE leader and sitting interior minister Lauri Läänemets has recently said that an agreement on how to progress with the next European Commissioner is a key point in any potential agreement.

Next year's European Parliamentary elections will be followed by the presentation of a new commissioner from Estonia, as the entire European Commission's composition will change.

Andrus Ansip told ERR on Monday that, in his opinion, the commissioner sent by Estonia to the European Commission should have experience as a member of the domestic government, ideally a former prime minister, because then they would have experience of how EU decision-making processes work.

Kaja Kallas, who sat as an MEP 2014 to 2018, is likely to head up the Estonian government for the foreseeable future and in the current, fraught security situation. There is only one other ex-prime minister from the last 18 years, Jüri Ratas (Center).

Ansip had the digital single market portfolio when he was commissioner, while Siim Kallas held the administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud (2004-2010) and transport (2010-2014) portfolios.

He also recently said his fellow Reform Party MEP Urmas Paet would be a good fit for the European Commissioner post.

Estonia gained an additional MEP seat post-Brexit, and now sends seven members to the parliament.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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