Euroscepticism Feeds on Failure of Domestic Politics
Membership in the European Union should not be an aim in itself, nor a substitute for imaginary security guarantees. The EU is predominantly an economic partnership that is dominated by large industrially developed countries and multinational capital with its cross-border capital flows. This creates the need for small countries to position themselves in this partnership and in the international division of labour, balancing their economic interests with projections on domestic developments.
Unfortunately, the Estonian Government has not only failed to prepare such projections, but has not yet even calculated what Estonia stands to gain and lose from accession. Without such basic research, the campaigns aimed at raising the public awareness of Estonians on the EU are doomed to remain inefficient and irrelevant. Not a surprise, then, that according to the latest polls, more than half of Estonians are already anti-Europe.1
EU enlargement is not a synonym for European integration. Instead of offering economic co-operation and harmonisation of standards as part of the integration process, enlargement is a condition where candidates are forced to relinquish their political sovereignty to a federal union.
The summit in Nice sent a clear signal that if the principle of consensus as a basis for decision-making is replaced by a majority voting principle in a wider EU, such small countries as Estonia will find defending their national interests very hard, if not impossible.
This sentiment is shared by the ruling coalition whose frontrunner in parliamentary debates on EU issues, Prime Minister Mart Laar, emphasises that Estonia’s objective in the EU is not to protect its national interests, but to adapt them to pan-European principles as an equal partner in this union. It seems that it is a principle that the public, with only ten years of experience in independence and sovereignty, will find hard to accept as an argument for a yes-vote.
1See, for instance, EMOR polls available on the Internet at www.emor.ee.