Estonians Prospers in the European Union
In 1995, Estonia applied for membership in the European Union (EU), but the EU did not formally admit them until 2004. Estonia’s addition to the European Union was part of a greater EU expansion that happened in 2004. Silver Tambur wrote an article in Estonia World titled “Estonia’s decision of the decade: joining the EU” that discusses the reason that Estonia decided to join the European Union.
The Pro Patria Union (center-right) party under the leadership of Mart Laar won the parliamentary elections in 2004. Laar and the newly elected President Meri prioritized joining the European Union and NATO. The Russification of Eastern Europe during the Cold War and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union between 1988-1991 created a solid national identity in Estonia. Estonians wanted to leave the “shadow of Russian” behind in favor of the security and economic opportunities that reentering the European community would bring. Tambur reported there is strong support for European Union in Estonia with 85% of the population in favor of Estonia being a member nation.
Estonia joined the EU over 10 years ago to bolster its economy by gaining EU member benefits. The European Union guarantees all its member states four fundamental freedoms: the freedoms of movement, capital, goods, and services. Upon entering the European Union Estonia entered the Euro-Zone. Estonia’s current GDP is 30.73 billion dollars a year and its per capita GDP is about 23,000 dollars a year. When Estonia entered the Euro-Zone they officially adopted the Euro as their formal currency. 1 Euro is the equivalent of 1.11 USD which means there is only an 11-cent difference between the Euro and the USD.
According to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, their purchasing power based on GDP grew to 58% of the European Union. Upon entering the Eurozone the EU invested billions of dollars into Estonia, which enabled the country to overhaul and modernize its infrastructure and improve trade. In the last 10 years, Estonia became the “Silicon Valley ” of Europe and gained influence on the international stage. Currently, Estonia is pushing for a single digital market in the Euro-Zone that would make online transactions among member states easier.
The success of Estonia in the EU and NATO is what the Russian Federation fears most. Eastern European countries should look at Estonia’s success when examining the benefits of freedom. The nation of Estonia is proof that with hard work, determination, and free will, a nation will prosper.