• 2004-07-22
If carried out, EU budget proposals published by the commission will give the Baltic states a boost as net recipients. The balance between Estonia's contribution to and receipts from the EU would equal 3.78 percent of its gross national income, compared with the present 3.76 percent. The GNI difference for Latvia would be 4.4 percent to 4.44 percent and Lithuania's would rise from 4.41 percent to 4.43 percent.

Estonian Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland admitted she was concerned about the future of the country's tax system, which has recently been criticized by French and German finance ministers. "I am taking a very serious look at everything that pertains to protecting the Estonian tax system and tax policy," she said. German Finance Minister Hans Eichel said that the Estonian zero-rate corporate tax was unacceptable, while French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said his country would propose unification of corporate tax in the EU. Ojuland felt there was much misunderstanding in this criticism. "It is apparently because the look at our tax policy principles has been superficial, and important things have been overlooked," she said, adding that the Foreign Service would explain tax principles during the coming months. The corporate tax rate is zero in Estonia only on reinvested profit, while on all other incomes the standard flat rate of 26 percent applies.

The fisheries sector in Latvia will be hurt the most if the European Commission and Russia fail to reach a compromise regarding animal origin food product exports before the September deadline, according to Agriculture Minister Martins Roze. "The situation is not stable since the EC has not reached the final agreement with Russia on veterinary issues," he said, adding that a decision must be made in July, since August is the EC's vacation period. Russia introduced a specific procedure for EU member state imports of animal origin food products on May 1. Exports to Russia were only allowed for companies entitled to freely sell their products in EU territory. For that reason, Russia's inspectors will visit the EU member states, including Latvia, to check for compliance.

Estonian art and antique imports increased 25-fold compared with last spring. Specialists say the boom was caused by antique dealers' hope to sell goods at a premium price after EU enlargement. Antique dealer Evald Langebraun said that the general antique market demand did not increase, but rather buyers were looking for more valuable items, as the number of rarities has run low in Estonia. Mati Raal, an art restorer and lecturer at the Estonian Art Academy, said that the import of antiques had recently increased from Latvia. At this moment, antique imports are at a lull.