Estonia welcomes the decision taken by Finland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands who have also abolished their labour market restrictions in addition to the UK, Ireland and Sweden, whose labour market is opened already since 1 May 2004.
One of the priority areas for Estonia in the framework of the Northern Dimension has always been the protection and improvement of the environment of the Baltic Sea and its surrounding areas. As the ND aims at addressing the specific regional development challenges Estonia puts a particular emphasis on the projects regarding energy, transport and IT networks and infrastructure. The Northern Dimension has proved to be an indispensable forum for addressing issues like fighting against human trafficking and prevention and control of infectious diseases.
As of January 2007, two new basic documents came into force - The Political Declaration of the Northern Dimension Policy and the Northern Dimension Policy Framework Document.
The new framework document states that the Northern Dimension is now a common policy of the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland. The content of the policy has been linked to the Common Spaces of the EU and Russia: the Northern Dimension acts as the practical implementation of the Common Spaces that takes place in Northwest Russia.
In addition to the successful Northern Dimension Environment Partnership (http://www.ndep.org/) and the Partnership on Public Health and SocialWell-Being (http://www.ndphs.org/), the political declaration also indicates two new potential focus areas for the ND - partnership on transport and logistics and cooperation in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Estonia finds it important to rebuild confidence among the EU's citizens in the European project. We have to demonstrate to our citizens that cooperativeness as well as co-operation ability in the enlarged EU persist.
According to the Eurobarometer poll conducted in the autumn of 2006, there is general positive approval in Estonia for greater openness towards single market, as well as globalisation: these processes are viewed as bringing more advantages than disadvantages.
Approximately 75 per cent of citizens believe that the EU plays a positive role in the world as regards environmental protection, the growth of world economy, as well as peace in the world. 70 per cent consider that the EU role is positive in fighting terrorism and 62 per cent that it is positive in fighting poverty in the world.
Regular surveys conducted in Estonia by TNS EMOR on the support to the European Union show a stable trend in the opinions of the Estonian population: throughout the past two years, the support rate has remained at about 60 to 70 per cent.
Estonians in European institutions
On 1 May 2004, Commissioner Mr. Siim Kallas nominated from Estonia started work in the European Commission, continuing work in the new Commission that took office on 22 November 2004 with his area of work including administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud. Concurrently, Siim Kallas is one of the five vice presidents of the European Commission. Also Marve Rute works as Director of the Directorate for Promotion of SMEs' Competitiveness at the Enterprise Diretorate General and Signe Ratso works as Principal Advisor of Trade Directorate General of the European Commission.
In January 2007, Dr Riina Kionka was appointed the Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the SG/HR Javier Solana.
The European Parliament elections, which took place on 13 June 2004, were a new and significant experience for the Estonians. The European Parliament under a number of the EU's agreements has a continuously growing influence on the EU decision making process and in the light of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe its competence is about to grow even more, thus the decisions made by the citizens at the elections were of great importance.
Estonia has 6 representatives in the European Parliament: Mrs Katrin Saks, Mrs Marianne Mikko and Mr Andres Tarand of the Estonian Social Democratic Party (Socialist Group); Mrs Siiri Oviir of the Centre Party (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); Mr Toomas Savi of the Reform Party (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) and Mr Tunne Kelam of the Pro Patria Union (European People's Party).
The work of the Parliament is performed in various committees. Currently, there are 20 permanent committees in the European Parliament. Among Estonian envoys, Mrs Marianne Mikko is a Member of the Committee on Culture and Education, as well as of the Committee on Fisheries, Mrs Katrin Saks belongs to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Andres Tarand - to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, Mrs Siiri Oviir - to the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, as well as to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Mr Toomas Savi - to the Committee on Development and Mr Tunne Kelam - to the Committee on Regional Development.
From Estonia, Mr Uno L?hmus from 1 May 2004 to 6 October 2009 has been nominated as a judge to the European Court of Justice and Mrs K?llike J?rim?e has been named a judge to the Court of First Instance until 2010.
The representatives of different fields of Estonian economic and social life are members of the European Economic and Social Committee and Estonian local governments participate in the work of the Committee of the Regions. Estonia has 7 members in both committees; the composition of the committees is being renewed every four years.
The Estonian representative in the Court of Auditors is Kersti Kaljulaid, whose mandate lasts till 2010.