In July, the Estonian Presidency brought 4 588 experts from various fields to Estonia, where they discussed important European issues during informal ministerial meetings, in expert commissions, and conferences. During the meetings held in Estonia and elsewhere in Europe, agreements were reached on various subjects, ranging from the actions necessary to solve the migration crisis to the adoption of a joint declaration on developing super-fast 5G internet connections
"According to member states, our priorities are very relevant and require immediate action. The delegates that have visited Estonia so far have been very satisfied with our work; we have received praise for the discussions, the organisation of events as well as the hosting experience. However, we are particularly happy that we have reached specific agreements in the first month of our Presidency," summarised Klen Jäärats, the Director for EU Affairs at the Government Office EU Secretariat.
Since the formal launch of the Estonian Presidency on 29 June 2017, Estonia has hosted 40 meetings of ministers, commissions, and experts, with a further 200 meetings hosted in Brussels. Estonia has also headed many discussions about managing specific issues, such as on the migration crisis, where agreements have been made on the next steps to come.
"By holding the presidency, Estonia's main role is to be a leader that helps find middle ground among various positions and needs. Yet it is obvious that no presidency makes agreements alone and it is always the result of teamwork. We are taking over several topics from Malta, who previously held the presidency," Jäärats explained.
The most important activities of the Estonian Presidency during the first month according to priority areas
An open and innovative European economy means developing a business environment, which supports knowledge-based growth and competitiveness. Under that priority:
- a quick agreement was reached on the 2018 EU budget position; further negotiations with European Parliament will continue in October and November
- leaders of Japan and the EU reached a trade agreement that enhances the EU-Japan trade and economic partnership; work will now continue on the documents required for implementation
A safe and secure Europe means a European Union that acts together, preserves its united foreign policy and ensures the safety of its citizens, while also promoting peace, prosperity and stability on the global stage. Under that priority:
- an action plan for the alleviation of the migration situation on the central Mediterranean was approved at the informal meeting of home affairs ministers in Tallinn
- an agreement was reached on a regulation regarding the qualification standards as well as the equal rights and responsibilities of refugees
- an agreement was reached on the 'Blue Card Directive' concerning highly qualified workers coming from third countries. The purpose of the draft legislation is to increase Europe's competitiveness and attract highly qualified workers and economic transformers to Europe, offering them, under certain conditions, the 'EU Blue Card', a living and working permit valid throughout the EU
A digital Europe and the free movement of data means that Europe must keep up with the technological advancements that are resulting in constant change for citizens, businesses and governments. Under that priority:
- telecommunications ministers of 28 EU member states and Norway signed a 5G declaration that will give an impetus to the development of super-fast internet connections, technology and the internet of things
- a lively discussion was launched between top field experts on the free movement of data at the digital single market conference, which touched upon increasing the competitiveness of Europe through a well-functioning digital society
- a line of driverless shuttles was opened in Tallinn and offers everyone a chance to experience the development of this futuristic technology
- an Estonian Presidency digital programme was published and has become the most read text on the EU2017.ee website
An inclusive and sustainable Europe supports equal opportunities for high-quality education, employment, access to services and the development of skills. A sustainable Europe cares about and is committed to achieving a cleaner environment. Under that priority:
- EU environment ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement
- Estonia and the two next presidencies, Bulgaria and Austria, signed a joint trio declaration (PDF, 4.87 MB) on making progress on gender equality in the EU over the next 18 months