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date: 27 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

Enlargement has been one of the European Union’s (EU) most successful foreign policies, but it has its limits: the EU cannot expand endlessly. The Treaty on European Union stipulates that any European country may apply for membership if the state respects and follows the EU’s democratic values and meets all the membership criteria. The timely process can be shown by the example of Estonia. Estonia applied for membership in 1995 and became a member in 2004. Estonia had been occupied by the Soviet Union for a long time and, due to that, the skepticism of joining a new union arose when the membership talks started. Estonia has gone through a very interesting historical period from regaining its independence, its path to the EU membership, eventual EU membership, and the country’s EU presidency in the second half of 2017. In the 1990s, the integration into the EU was accepted by many Estonians as a touchstone of belonging to the free world, a status as that would help to consolidate freedom and boost the economy. The harmonization of Estonian economic, legal, political and social system into the EU framework was a difficult and not a problem-free process. There were several heated discussions related to the sovereignty and constitutional independence the accession turned out to be possible. The majority of Estonians still supports the EU membership. After joining EU, Estonians feel more secure, granted with freedom, and well-being. According to a Eurobarometer survey, citizens feel the biggest benefits in the area of free movement of persons, goods, and services. Estonia has also significantly contributed to the structures of the EU. However, the growth of Euro-skepticism can be also detected recently in Estonia with growing popularity of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia, a member of a government coalition established after the parliamentary elections of 2019.

Enlargement has been one of the European Union’s (EU) most successful foreign policies, but it has its limits: the EU cannot expand endlessly. The Treaty on European Union stipulates that any European country may apply for membership if the state respects and follows the EU’s democratic values and meets all the membership criteria. The timely process can be shown by the example of Estonia. Estonia applied for membership in 1995 and became a member in 2004. Estonia had been occupied by the Soviet Union for a long time and, due to that, the skepticism of joining a new union arose when the membership talks started. Estonia has gone through a very interesting historical period from regaining its independence, its path to the EU membership, eventual EU membership, and the country’s EU presidency in the second half of 2017. In the 1990s, the integration into the EU was accepted by many Estonians as a touchstone of belonging to the free world, a status as that would help to consolidate freedom and boost the economy. The harmonization of Estonian economic, legal, political and social system into the EU frameworkwas a difficult and not a problem-free process. There were several heated discussions related to the sovereignty and constitutional independence the accession turned out to be possible. The majority of Estonians still supports the EU membership. After joining EU, Estonians feel more secure, granted with freedom, and well-being According to a Eurobarometer survey, citizens feel the biggest benefits in the area of free movement of persons, goods, and services. . Estonia has also significantly contributed to the structures of the EU. However, the growth of Euro-skepticism can be also detected recently in Estonia with growing popularity of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia, a member of a government coalition established after the parliamentary elections of 2019.

Keywords: Estonia, transition, European Union, European Union politics, EU Council presidency, Estonian political parties

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