Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

Estonian commissioner criticised for political campaign

  • Kallas (r) is tipped to become the next Estonian Prime Minister (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

A group of MEPs has written a letter to European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso asking for the resignation of the Estonian commissioner, Siim Kallas, who is leading political negotiations for the Prime Minister post back home.

According to the EU Treaty, "members of the commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government or other institution, body, office or entity. They shall refrain from any action incompatible with their duties or the performance of their tasks."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Kallas may be in breach of this clause and also of the EU commission's internal Code of Conduct, which says commissioners have to resign or take a leave of absence if they get involved in election campaigns.

The Estonian commissioner on Monday (10 March) is expected to be appointed negotiator to form a new government - if he is successful he will become Prime Minister of Estonia until elections are held next year.

Barroso's spokeswoman told this website that Kallas has informed Barroso of his activities back home but not asked for a leave yet. She expects him to resign only if appointed Prime Minister.

To Indrek Tarand, a Green Estonian MEP who initiated the protest letter, this is a "too flexible interpretation of the Code of Conduct."

"It is clear he keeps the commissioner job as backup, because he is not sure the Estonian parliament will vote for him. But it would be ridiculous if he continued as commissioner after being voted down by the parliament," Tarand told EUobserver.

He also said Kallas is misleading the Estonian public when claiming that the caretaker Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip, who resigned last week to make room for a new leader of the party one year before elections, will automatically replace him as commissioner until the current Barroso commission ends, later this autumn.

"Kallas never mentioned the fact that the candidate for the commission will have to pass the vote of the European Parliament," Tarand said.

The arrangement with Ansip seems obvious, as the outgoing PM in an interview last week with Etv said Kallas would be a good choice for Prime Minister, especially since Estonia is due to take over the rotating EU presidency in 2018.

Ansip also shielded Kallas' against media reports that the commissioner signed over 100 million USD worth of guarantees for unknown purposes back in 1994 when he was governor of the Estonian central bank.

“In my opinion, the plan was to bring more money into Estonia, not vice versa,” Ansip said.

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

Commission struggles with German court challenge

While the EU commission has suggested there could be EU probes becasue of the German consitutional court's decision, chancellor Angela Merkel argued to her party that a clash is avoidable.

Bucharest and Budapest in 'autonomy' region row

Budapest and Bucharest are engaged in a war of words over the heavily-Hungarian region of Szeklerland, part of Romania's Transylvania. But is a row over autonomy just cover to overshadow the corona virus crisis?

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us