Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder and EKRE Minister of Finance Martin Helme agreed yesterday that the latter should have consulted the PM before a vote of Eurozone finance ministers last week. Having cleared matters up with his coalition partners, Ratas will leave for today’s European Council meeting with a strong message of support for ESM reform.
“Based on deliberations, I can support ESM reform agreements, with further steps to become clear in fall,” the PM said.
Helme strongly defended a veto right for ESM votes last week, making Estonia the only country to disagree with the general consensus. Ratas reacted quickly by letting President of the European Council Donald Tusk know that he will withdraw Estonia’s reservation.
“In the matter of a reservation regarding the extraordinary 85-percent qualified majority condition, the finance minister should have consulted the PM before making his final decision,” Ratas said regarding his agreement with Seeder and Helme yesterday. In doing so, the PM let it be understood that Helme admitted his mistake. Martin Helme remained unavailable for comment yesterday.
Ratas said that the ESM subject matter has been under heightened attention for the Estonian public since its creation in 2012. It caused the justice chancellor to turn to the Supreme Court to check the constitutionality of the ESM base treaty. “Based on the Supreme Court’s decision from back then, an unstable Eurozone would seriously threaten the Estonian economy. A serious crisis of the Eurozone would be a far graver threat for the Estonian people and taxpayers than the realization of this guarantee for the ESM,” Ratas said.
The court found that while allowing a qualified majority of 85 percent for making ESM loan decisions constitutes a limitation, the restriction is in the interests of member states, including Estonia, and therefore justified. “That is why finance minister Helme’s caution in this matter is understandable,” Ratas noted. The PM said that it was decided at the government’s June 6 cabinet meeting to generally support the ESM reform. The Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) has been critical of both the ESM and its reform in the past.