Current European Commissioner for Estonia, Andrus Ansip (Reform), has said he thinks he will not be able to continue in the role after the May 26 European elections, which he is running in, and that his replacement would most likely be a woman.
Ansip does not have to make the decision immediately the election results are known, however, and has around a month to choose, during which time he can continue as commissioner. His term at the European Commission was due to end in October this year.
"The Electoral Committee will register both MEPs and alternative members no later than June 15, after which candidates will have ten days to indicate to the committee whether they intend to continue in their current position, or take up work at the European Parliament," Kristi Kirsberg, of the Electoral Committee (VVK), told ERR's online Estonian news on Tuesday.
Ansip's term at the commission was, as noted, due to run until October, so there is no possibility of him fulfilling this and taking up an MEP seat. If he does the latter, the Estonian government will also have to appoint his successor at the commission.
For his part, Ansip told ERR that he would take up the MEP role, not least because his party is in opposition, meaning the current Centre/EKRE/Isamaa coalition is not likely to nominate a Reform Party member to the European Commission in any case. In fact, Kadri Simson, a former Centre MP, is widely tipped to be nominated to the role.
Ansip's replacement will require the support of the Riigkogu's E.U. affairs committee, as well as being nominated by the government, he added.
The new composition of the European Parliament is due to convene for the first time on July 2.
Kadri Simson likely replacement
Of the possible appointment of Kadri Simson, Ansip said that the new commissioner from Estonia would most likely be a woman in any case.
"The principle of gender balance is very important for the European Commission, and so far it has not been able to do that perfectly," he told ERR.
"However, clearly there must be more women in the next European Commission than the current one, so the Estonian nominee should definitely be a woman," he continued, noting the European Parliament would be unlikely to accept yet another man to the role, for the fourth parliamentary session in a row.
Siim Kallas (Reform) served two terms in the role, before Ansip.
European Commissioners carry a portfolio, which in Ansip's case was the digital single market, but the next Estoinan commissioner is likely to hold a different portfolio, he says.
"At the same time, the portfolio is much more complicated, and the proposals of the digital single market have all been put forward; they are essentially closed in parliament, since it will not hold any more plenary sessions," Ansip said.
"As to specific commissioner portfolio, this all depends on the President of the Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker-ed.), but it is certain that the next full-time commissioner from Estonia will not be assigned to the digital portfolio," he continued, noting that the one country tends not to have the same commission portfolio in successive sessions.
Polls conducted by market research company Turu-uuringute showed eight percent of voters would select Andrus Ansip, making him the most popular Reform Party candidate.
Estonia has six MEP seats, and is treated as a single electoral district in the European elections. Sixty six candidates are running.
Editor: Andrew Whyte