April 29, 2024

Estonia in the EU: 20 years of membership

Stenbocki maja
Stenbocki maja

On the 1st of May 2024 Estonia and 9 other countries celebrate 20 years of EU membership. Here is an overview of our most important publications on EU, enlargement and foreign and defence policy considerations over the years.

Having doubts about the value of EU enlargement? Look at Estonia!

When Estonia together with nine other countries joined the EU twenty years ago, there was no talk about a geopolitical enlargement. The most important goals of the “big bang” enlargement were to consolidate democracy and enhance prosperity and stability in the so-called post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Their parallel accession to NATO provided them with security guarantees, but the dominant view in the Euro-Atlantic community was that European states did not face any direct military threat. An overview by Kristi Raik.

Series of 5 papers on Ukraine’s EU accession

  1. The Potential Impact of Ukrainian Accession on the EU’s Budget – and the Importance of Control Valves by Michael Emerson.
  2. The Impact of Ukrainian Membership on the EU’s Institutions and Internal Balance of Power by Steven Blockmans.
  3. Accelerator for a Geopolitical Europe: Potential Impact of Ukraine’s Membership on EU Foreign, Security, and Defence Policy by Kristi Raik, Steven Blockmans.
  4. An E-Integration Marathon: The Potential Impact of Ukrainian Membership on the EU’s Digitalisation and Cybersecurity by Merle Maigre.
  5. The Impact of Ukraine’s Accession on the EU’s Economy: The Value Added of Ukraine by Tinatin Akhvlediani, Veronika Movchan.

No Gain Without Pain: Estonia’s Views on EU Enlargement

In Estonian politics, there is a widespread agreement on the security and prosperity benefits of EU enlargement, particularly regarding Ukraine, but also for other candidate countries. However, nuances exist among different parties regarding the trade-off between the geopolitical argument for enlargement and the potential losses that Estonia might face. An analysis by Merili Arjakas.

Freeze, Seize and Tax – That’s How to Make Russia (and Its Enablers) Pay For Ukraine’s Reconstruction

As Russia’s war against Ukraine barrels on, reconstruction costs are mounting. Current estimates for rebuilding Ukraine vary between several hundred billion up to EUR 1 trillion. Yet a ballooning defense budget of EUR 40 billion and dwindling international aid could push Ukraine’s war-torn economy to the brink. By Steven Blockmans.


Series: EU Defence After Ukraine

Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine has had profound impact on European and transatlantic security organisations. NATO has taken steps to strengthen its own deterrence and defence posture but, recognising the risk that the war may become or be portrayed as a NATO-Russia conflict, has carefully avoided a direct institutional response.

The EU Member States have, by contrast, acted collectively against Russia, notably in implementing robust EU-wide sanctions and in using EU instruments to finance the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Through these actions, the EU has gone some way towards strengthening its geopolitical posture as envisaged in its most recent strategy document, the Strategic Compass. By Tony Lawrence and Louis Pernotte.

Ukraine’s Path to EU Membership: How to Turn a Geopolitical Necessity into a Viable Process

Ukraine applied for EU membership at a time when Russia has attacked it in a war of choice. An overview of the process before the the European Council on 23–24 June 2022. By Kristi Raik and Steven Blockmans.


A Northern Agenda for an Open and Secure Europe

The discussion about Europe’s ability to forge a more independent route in international affairs has spilled over from the realm of defence to other areas such as foreign policy, trade, digital and health. By Niklas Helwig, Juha Jokela, Piret Kuusik, Kristi Raik.


Estonia’s Partners in the EU Coalition Machinery: Maximising Influence in the EU through Coalition-building

This policy paper examines Estonia’s partners in the European Union with the aim of identifying ways to enhance its influence on policy-making. Effective coalition-building is also important for the EU as a whole, since it can improve the Union’s capacity to take decisions and act. By Kristi Raik and Josef Janning.


Post-Crimea Shift in EU-Russia Relations: From Fostering Interdependence to Managing Vulnerabilities

  • The EU and Russia depend on each other in a number of fields, including energy, trade, the financial sector and security. These connections are asymmetric and create different vulnerabilities for both sides.
  • At best, economic interdependence between states may contribute to security and stability. However, in EU-Russia relations, the preconditions for positive interdependence were always weak and have further weakened since 2014.
  • The EU needs to pay more attention to reducing its vulnerabilities, caused for example by the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
  • Russia has been keen to reduce its dependence on Europe, for instance in the financial sector and in respect of food imports. The Ukraine crisis has proved that Russia is willing to pay an economic price in order to pursue its geopolitical interests.
  • The EU and Russia need to develop a new conceptual basis for a more sober and functional relationship. There is no way back to “business as usual”.

The book is the outcome of a research project of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, carried out during 2018-2019. The project was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. By Kristi Raik and András Rácz.


The Nordic-Baltic Region in the EU 27 – Time for New Strategic Cooperation

The Brexit process is changing the balance of power and coalition politics in the European Union. This report analyzes the shared interests and aims of the six Nordic and Baltic member states (NB6, consisting of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden) in the EU, focusing on three broad areas: open society, open economy and shared security. By Piret Kuusik and Kristi Raik.

EU-Russia Relations in the New Putin Era

Subtitled Not Much Light at the End of the Tunnel, this report analyses the ramifications of and short-to-medium-term prospects for relations between the EU and Russia. A report by András Rácz and Kristi Raik.


Building Capacity for the EU Global Strategy

A degraded security situation, the Brexit referendum and the election of a US President at best indifferent to European security matters have led the Member States to search for new security and defence solutions and for new ways to demonstrate European cohesion. By Tony Lawrence, Henrik Praks and Pauli Järvenpää.


Brexit and Baltic Sea Security

The result of the UK’s June 2016 referendum on continued membership of the EU was unexpected and its consequences wide-ranging and grave. This report considers the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union (‘Brexit’) on the security of Estonia, the Baltic Sea region and Europe more widely. Its focus is hard security – military security and defence. By Riina Kaljurand, Tony Lawrence, Pauli Järvenpää, Tomas Jermalavičius.

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