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Estonia in the European Union
It is in Estonia's interests to have the European Union economically competitive and politically weighty in the international arena. The main directions of the European Union policy of Estonia have been defined in the strategic frame document "The Estonian Government's European Union Policy for 2004-2006". Pursuant to that, Estonia strives to promote the common interests of Europe through five main objectives: the competitiveness and openness of Europe, effective economic and fiscal policy, economy and sustainability, closeness to the citizens, safety and security, worldwide promotion of democracy and well-being.
A new EU policy for the period 2007-2010 is under way.
The Estonian Government also establishes its short-term goals in the beginning of every EU presidency and reviews them after each presidency.
Ratification of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
On 9 May 2006 - Europe Day, the Riigikogu (Parliament) ratified the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Estonia was the 15th country to ratify the Treaty. It is a message to Europe that the European values and political agreements contained in the Treaty are important for Estonia. We all wish that the European Union were more efficient and dynamic as well as better understood for its citizens. The EU needs a strong Treaty in order to address the modern challenges of the world.
After a setback in the ratification process of the Treaty, the Member States at the European Council of June 2005 decided to take a year for thinking over to find out how to proceed with the Treaty. Now the reflection period is over and it is in the interests of all Member States to implement the new treaty before the next European Parliament elections in 2009. The subject continues to be topical in all the European capitals.
The text of the Treaty is a compromise born with difficulty, reflecting the European Union's political reality today. Estonia considers it right to continue ratification in accordance with internal decisions of the Member States. It is only this way that we get an integral image of the situation based on which clear decisions can be made as regards the future of the Treaty.
Estonia attaches great importance to informing the public of the Treaty as it is also a good opportunity to raise the people's knowledge about the EU in general. The State Chancellery's EU Information Unit has the central role in the co-ordination of the informing process. An information plan has been outlined including different media projects, information days, the publication of fact sheets and brochures, training sessions for journalists and for the representatives of rural areas. An important role will be played by non-governmental organisations.
Estonia finds enlargement one of the EU's most successful policies. It has extended peace, stability and prosperity in Europe and we believe that those gains can be extended even further if the enlargement process continues.
Estonia consistently supports the EU's further enlargement and finds that the EU has to keep its commitments as regards to the enlargement as well as to the EU perspective promised to the Western Balkan countries in the Thessaloniki agenda (2003). We know from our own experience that the EU perspective is a significant source of motivation in the implementation of political and economic reforms for the countries in transition. Estonia, having recently joined the EU, is ready to share its experience with other countries aspiring to join the Union.
Estonia finds that the Member States should avoid negative rhetoric associated with the EU enlargement and make efforts to ensure that the positive facets of the enlargement be reflected equitably.
Energy has been on the forefront of the EU agenda for about a year, catalysed by the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis at the beginning of 2006. In March 2006 the European Commission issued a Green Paper for Energy (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/green-paper-energy/index_en.htm) and the subsequent European Council decided to kick-start the development of an Energy Policy for Europe (EPE). The Council also endorsed a paper by the Commission and Secretary General / High Representative Javier Solana which elaborates the external aspects of the energy issues (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/reports/90082.pdf).
2007 has also seen a key development - in January the Commission published a thorough "energy package", consisting of a strategic energy review and relevant background documents (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/energy_policy/index_en.htm). The European Council in March will adopt a relevant action plan. Estonia has been a vocal supporter of developing EPE from the start.
Energy resources in the European Union are scarce and dependence on imports growing rapidly, especially regarding oil and gas. This year, the EU produces only 18% of the oil necessary; the numbers are a bit more positive for gas (37%) and coal (54%). According to forecasts, Europe's energy dependence will rise from present-day 40% up to two thirds by 2030. It is thus crucial to focus on the security of supplies. In that respect, energy efficiency, renewables and battling climate change will be of vital importance and action by the member states will have to be taken in those areas.
EU Climate changes policy
There is growing scientific consensus that climate change is happening and main cause is the emission of greenhouse gases from human activity. Since the end 1990s, the EU has committed itself to perform a global leadership role as regards the fight against global warming. Estonia considers matters of climate changes very important.
In 1998 Estonia joined the protocol undersigned at Kyoto conference, according to which emissions of greenhouse gases must be reduced in 2008-2012 by ca 8%, compared to the year 1990. By now 132 countries have ratified the Kyoto protocol.
The European Union has