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Opinion digest: Estonia’s presidency priorities meaningless next to Brexit

Andrus Karnau is the editor-in-chief of Lääne Elu and one of the presenters of Olukorrast riigis (
Andrus Karnau is the editor-in-chief of Lääne Elu and one of the presenters of Olukorrast riigis ("State of the nation") on Raadio 2. Source: (ERR)

Estonia’s own priorities for its upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union have no meaning whatsoever, as the main issue throughout the second half of the year will be the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, journalist Andrus Karnau thinks.

Karnau, one of the presenters on ERR’s Olukorrast riigis (“State of the nation”) radio broadcast, said that what the government had confirmed in its meeting in Brussels this week was basically already there.

“This program, these bills that need to be discussed and where compromises need to be found, most of it is already there, and will be taken over from the preceding presidency. Events in foreign policy are the other big influencer: Brexit, the migration crisis, and then a new consensus needs to be found to extend the sanctions against Russia,” Karnau said.

Other than that, the presidency’s hands would pretty much be tied, Karnau opined.

“It’s clear that the basic issue this autumn and winter will be Brexit. And though formally Estonia is on the side, because the EU has appointed a special representative to deal with it, it’s clear that now, before the British elections and the beginning of the real negotiations, positions have to be worked out,” Karnau said, adding that both the UK as well as the European Commission were currently making threats and talking about very large sums of money.

Karnau also pointed out that though officials repeated at every opportunity how the EU’s activities would continue as usual and the 27 remaining member states were working on the union and looking into the future, this repeated insistence only meant that most of the attention and resources of the EU would still be expended on that particular issue.

Estonia will follow Malta in the presidency of the EU council starting July 2017.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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