Fact-checking EKRE minister statements: Far-right EU, USSR comparison wrong

EKRE chairman Mart Helme and deputy chairman Martin Helme.
EKRE chairman Mart Helme and deputy chairman Martin Helme. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said on Wednesday that comparing the EU to the Soviet Union is fair, seeing as both unions were set up so that no member state could leave. This claim has been a recent line of argument used mainly by EKRE politicians to add to supposed victories in different countries' efforts to secede from the EU to varying degrees. This statement is in fact wrong.

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon was written specifically to appease British conservative hardliners, as its author, former Italian prime minister Giulio Amato, has said on several occasions. At the time Amato penned the draft of Article 50, he would never have assumed that a member state would actually end up using it.

The provisions of the treaty for an individual member state to leave the union are very specific and create an extremely difficult situation in any case. From this point of view, it is fair to say that nobody intended to have members leave. Then again, the EU's members all joined it voluntarily and in proper referendums as well.

Quite contrary to the way most socialist Soviet republics, or SSRs, "joined" the Soviet Union. As we are dealing with the statement of an Estonian politician here, the example which applies is that of the Estonian SSR, which was occupied and annexed, with any supposedly democratic procedures involved having been so much window dressing.

The counterpart of the Treaty of Lisbon's Article 50 in the Constitution of the Soviet Union, also dealing with secession, was Article 72, which specified that every member state of the Soviet Union was, in essence, free to leave. To keep this from happening, the bosses at the top of the Soviet food chain installed Article 74, which stated that the laws of the Soviet Union always superseded those of the USSR's member states.

This meant that if a republic in the USSR voted to leave, it would express this in a law or declaration of legislative power — immediately canceled out as per Article 74.

The EU works the other way round. In the European Union, the constitutions and laws of the member states supersede those of the EU. If the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia should ever be pitted against the laws of the European Union, it is the former that applies, not the latter.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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