Prime Minister Jüri Ratas today presented the priorities and objectives of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to the Riigikogu. According to the Prime Minister, the most important objective of the Estonian Presidency is to maintain the strength and unity of the EU and to ensure that nobody feels rejected or excluded.
"Standing and acting united are not simply empty words; a mere declaration is not enough to maintain unity. Unity requires hard work, trade-offs, a strong will and sometimes even swallowing your pride or the challenge of awareness-raising in your home country," said Prime Minister Ratas. "The role of the Presidency is to search for a common denominator and point of balance: to find a fair balance between new and conventional, risky and safe, economic, social and environmental, big and small, North and South, East and West."
According to Ratas, the EU not only has to but also wants to stand united. "Much to the chagrin of cynics, populists and doomsayers, European unity is still strong. The shock after the UK voted to leave the EU and the ensuing introspection led, first, to the Bratislava Summit and, eventually, to the Rome Declaration. This has been an important process of rediscovering ourselves that has shown the strength of Europe’s foundation and our will to cooperate."
I am proud of how the Rome Declaration was created and what it says. This is a statement made by a union that is not afraid of being open to the world and wants to preserve and develop its joint achievements," said the Prime Minister, adding that we can all be pleased that the document guiding Europe’s future includes the crucial issues for all of us: the importance of security, safety and neighbourhood; the need to complete the development of the European economic area and to create necessary connections as well as the courage to use opportunities and tackle threats arising from rapid technological change.
"The test of our unity and determination is how well we can implement these common objectives," said Ratas. "The Estonian Presidency is part of this journey. Our four priorities are inspired by the spirit of the Bratislava summit and the Rome Declaration. Our guiding principles are an open and innovative European economy, a safe and secure Europe, a digital Europe and the free movement of data, and an inclusive and sustainable Europe."
According to Ratas, the main themes of the Estonian Presidency are in line with the Bratislava roadmap and the Rome Declaration. "This does not mean that Estonia will take over pending EU issues only. It does, however, mean that the EU has been dealing for years with issues that are important for Estonia. We have often had a significant role in putting and keeping those issues on the agenda – the Rome Declaration is neither the first, nor will it be the last, EU instrument with the fingerprints of Estonians all over it."
For the priorities of the Estonian Presidency, see Prime Minister Jüri Ratas’s address to the Riigikogu in detail.