Baltic, Polish politicians competing with Estonia's Kaja Kallas for key EU positions

  • 2024-02-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister and leader of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas faces a significant decision in the near future whether to aim for the position of lead candidate for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) in the European Parliament elections, Postimees reports.

Politicians from Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are also vying for defense and foreign policy posts in the European Commission, but Kallas's advantage could be her party affiliation.

The European Parliament elections are scheduled for this June, and the new European Commission will take office in the fall, but discussions over commissioner positions will start immediately after the elections.

The position of high representative for foreign affairs is definitely up for grabs among the parties forming the governing coalition. However, if the current President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is re-elected, a new position of defense commissioner may also be created. The position of the president of the European Council will also need to be filled.

Kallas has been considered by both Estonian and international media as one of the potential top candidates for the liberals, and there has been much speculation about her future plans. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, and Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins are considered her biggest competitors.

Kallas needs to make a decision soon as the ALDE party convention is already scheduled for March 20 and 21, where the lead candidate will be decided.

"I have weighed the pros and cons," Kallas has previously told Postimees. She has mentioned that her candidacy would benefit the liberals due to her recognition. She has said that becoming the lead candidate would be a significant acknowledgment. Although she has acknowledged that the lead candidate system does not allow representatives of small countries to achieve this position, Kallas now sees an opportunity.

The European Parliament elections are likely to be won by the European People's Party (EPP), not the liberals, so the liberals will not get the position of commission president; however, the liberals could potentially secure one of the key positions -- either the position of high representative for foreign affairs or the president of the European Council.

Member of the Estonian parliament Eerik-Niiles Kross has previously told Postimees that the position of the president of the European Council is more of a facade, and the position of high representative for foreign affairs is much bigger and more important. Therefore, more politicians are vying for this prestigious post.

Even if Kallas becomes the lead candidate, the position is not guaranteed, and this is another point for consideration. Being the lead candidate would interfere with her current duties as Estonian prime minister, requiring her resignation.

Within the Reform Party, hope has also been expressed that Kallas will step down from the prime minister's position before the European Parliament elections. Kallas thus has a unique opportunity to aspire to a very important position, but it also comes with great risk. She has until the end of March to finalize her plans.