International political magazine Politico has assessed Estonia's achievements during its half-year presidency of the Council of the EU as mostly positive, with Estonia's employment and social policy, its energy policy and its environmental policy receiving a nine, but its work in the field of healthcare earning just five points out of a possible ten.
Politico cited Estonia's plans to move the EU forward in the digital field and commended Estonia for succeeding in elevating digital issues to Europe's top political table, even if they did not achieve everything they might have hoped to achieve.
The publication also commended Estonia for maintaining EU unity during Brexit negotiations, and noted that a big drop in migrants reaching Europe's shores means that the migration issue had lost some of its poisonous potency under Estonia's watch.
Assessing the country's achievements across various fields, Politico gave the highest grade to success in the fields of energy and employment and social policy, with both fields receiving nine points out of a possible ten.
Politico also noted that the Estonian presidency succeeded in what many had considered almost impossible — reaching an agreement on the Council's joint position in negotiations with the European Parliament on four legislative proposals aimed at readying the EU's electricity markets for more renewables, more electricity flows across borders, more competition, and more consumer involvement.
In the field of employment and social policy, the Estonian presidency managed to reach agreements between governments on some of the most contentious dossiers on the political agenda, not the least of which included updates to the Posted Workers Directive. It also managed to secure the Council's backing for the Pillar of Social Rights, a document signed off in Sweden that lays out the rights to which EU citizens are entitled. Estonia won Council agreement on a position on a draft law obliging products and services to be made accessible to disabled people. The Estonian presidency also made significant progress on new measures to coordinate social security systems.
Before noon, Politico changed its assessment of Estonia's achievements in the field of climate and environment to nine out of ten points, taking into account a big climate win achieved at the end of last week and noting that Estonia managed to provisionally wrap up every major climate file during its presidency.
The magazine also gave eight points to Estonia's activity in the field of Brexit, trade, and transport.
Seven and a half points were given to Estonia in the field of migration and neighborhood, and seven points in the fields of agriculture, digital issues, financial services, and maritime and fishing. Estonia's activity in the field of security and justice, meanwhile, received six points out of ten.
Politico gave just five points to Estonia's achievements in the field of healthcare, however, noting that Estonia did not achieve much in the health field, but also did not aim high on health issues during its presidency. It focused on issues related to harms caused by alcohol that cannot be regulated at national level due to the fact that Europeans are allowed to move large quantities of alcohol across borders from one country to another other. It also promoted e-health as a way to improve health systems, but the Health Council conclusions on the issue were merely a rerun of many initiatives already taking place, the international magazine noted, and it was not able to convince the European Commission to propose a new alcohol strategy at the European level. During the Estonian EU presidency, Amsterdam was elected as the new location for the European Medicines Agency.
Estonia's presidency of the Council of the EU began on July 1 and will formally end on Dec. 31, when it will hand the presidency off to Bulgaria.
Editor: Aili Vahtla