Public stakeholders event in Tallinn
On 20 May 2015, Open Estonia Foundation organized a public debate in the framework of the New Pact or Europe project.
Estonian EU expert Viljar Veebel opened the debate voicing his doubts about the New Pact for Europe. According to Mr Veebel, many similar innovative ideas have been on the table for almost 10 years, therefore it is hard to expect that political agenda could be changed this time.
The main issue, in his view, is that the single market is great in theory but the common regulations do not work in the same way for all EU members - this is why Europe is fragmented and split into core and periphery. Therefore way the EU is governed needs to be changed fundamentally, otherwise Europe would face crisis every couple of decades, hitting the peripheral states such as Greece, Spain or Estonia the hardest.
The second speaker, Klen Jäärats (Director for European Union Affairs, Government Office of Estonia) was more positive about the state of the union today.
He raised the issue, however, that there is a lack of public space in the EU, and consequently, very little public dialogue. Mr Jäärats expressed admiration for the strategic thinking of Juncker's Commission and EU's strength in competition law (for example with Gazprom or Google) but also said that he is missing the security dimension when debating the future of the EU.
The discussion in small groups later revealed critical perception of the EU in general although majority of the participants agreed with the report's suggestions. Problems that were raised included deficit of democracy, overregulation, underinclusive policy making, lack of public dialogue, and EU as an elitist project. It was also pointed out that European values do not appear as a result of cooperation but rather as the smaller states copy large ones.
All the groups supported the idea of the energy union but were also sceptical about actually making it work: according to the participants, even though there is no price on energy security, it does not mean that Estonian consumers are capable of paying any price for this security.