Estonia’s problem may be about to become Europe’s problem. The Russian outrage sparked by the Baltic state’s decision to remove a Soviet war memorial from Tallinn city centre could have wider ramifications for the whole of the EU.
The rowdy demonstrations outside Estonia’s embassy in Moscow, backed by vitriolic comments in the Russian media, have been worrying enough for diplomatic families to be sent home out of harms way.
Estonia, as an EU member, rightly expects support from the rest of the Union. On Wednesday Germany, holder of the EU presidency, insisted that Moscow respects its obligations to protect embassies, diplomatic staff and their families.
How green is the European Commission? It claimed on Thursday it was very green indeed. A leader in fighting climate change and cutting car pollution, it would now seek to become a green imperium, pushing others around the world to adopt its ways.
The European Union’s global environmental policies should become “one of the core objectives of EU external relations policy”, a mid-term review said. There should be EU-wide taxes to encourage good environmental behaviour.
After all, commissioner Stavros Dimas pointed out, much remained to be done. "Global emissions of greenhouse gases are rising, the loss of biodiversity is not yet under control, pollution is still harming public health and volumes of waste are increasing in Europe,” he said.
What was needed was more money and ensuring a green tinge to everything from energy to agriculture policy. It was a breathtaking power grab and a huge contrast to when Jose Manuel Barroso’s Commission took office.