OECD visit excites membership prospects

  • 2008-02-13
  • By Adam Krowka
TALLINN - Estonia was given fresh encouragement in its drive to accede to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with a two-day visit from Secretary General Angel Gurria.
Gurria met with most high level officials, including Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Parliamentary Speaker Ene Ergma and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
While meeting with Ansip, Gurria expressed the need for Estonia to focus on greater flexibility in the labor market, which has become an acute problem for the Baltic state.

"When everyone else is running and you are walking fast, you will not be fast enough," he told reporters.
President Ilves spoke with the secretary general of Estonia's interest in membership, which will allow it to have a voice in global issues which are not handled within the structure of the European Union.
Benefits of OECD membership include information-sharing between member states, allowing opportunities for educational and business research and development.

Speaking of the future, Gurria also voiced confidence that Estonia would be able to contribute significantly toward the functioning and activities of the organization. Given Estonia's rapid and economically sustainable progress made in the fields of education, information technology and research and development, the organization will have much to take as well as to give from Estonia's membership.
"Our goal is to achieve membership as quickly as possible," said Paet during a meeting with Gurria.
A firm date has not yet been given for Estonia's accession, but Gurria made the observation that it took Mexico two years to join and in comparison Estonia is far better prepared.
No specific measures on Estonia's path to accession were named as in need of immediate or thorough reform.
"We are not telling candidate countries what they should do to join the OECD 's  they do it by themselves," said Gurria.

In December the OECD Council endorsed an action plan for Estonia's gradual accession to the body. The plan emerged out of a previous invitation to join the same year, which was also extended to Israel, Slovenia, Chile and Russia.
Activities of the organization include the collection of data, monitoring of trends in member countries, analysis and forecasting of economic development and research of patterns in main economic sectors of countries. The body is used as a forum for experience exchange of member countries; a local pub for policy formation in developed economies.

The OECD, formed in 1961, currently has 30 member countries. Its goals include supporting sustainable economic growth, boosting unemployment, raising living standards and maintaining financial stability.
Membership criteria include an open market economy, democratic pluralism and a record of respect for human rights. The organization also works to share expertise and advice with over 100 partner industrialized and developing countries.