The Estonian Parliament and EU Affairs: A Watchdog That Does Not Bark?

  • Piret Ehin


Estonia’s relationship with the European Union (EU) has been characterized by a strong elite consensus on the desirability of European integration. This sustained consensus reflects the small nation’s quest to strengthen its statehood in a complex international environment (Ehin, 2013). Following the restoration of the Estonian state in 1991, rapid integration with the West became a key element of ensuring the irreversibility of Estonia’s independence. Given a strong domestic consensus on the strategic aims of developing democracy and a market economy, integration with the EU was highly congruent with the Estonian elite’s state-building and transition strategies. As an ex-Soviet republic, Estonia commenced its quest for EU membership from a profoundly unfavourable starting position. In addition to being poor and peripheral, the country faced complex legacies from the Soviet era, including the presence of a large Russophone minority and an unresolved border dispute with the Russian Federation which opposed the inclusion of the Baltic States in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU with varying levels of intensity (Ehin, 2013, p. 218). During the course of the 1990s, the small Baltic country demonstrated great capacity for hard work in complying with EU conditionality and mastering the politics of accession. After joining the EU in 2004, the country settled on a strongly pro-European, integrationist course marked by staunch support for the deepening and widening of the Union (Ehin, 2006). Estonia’s zealous pursuit of maximum functional integration once inside the EU has distinguished it from several other new member states. By implementing stringent austerity measures in the context of an unprecedented contraction of the economy, Estonia achieved full compliance with the Maastricht criteria by 2010 and joined the eurozone on 1 January 2011.


European Union Lisbon Treaty European Union Institution Draft Resolution European Stability Mechanism 
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© Piret Ehin 2015

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  • Piret Ehin

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