Creating European unity, a journey that started 60 years ago, continues to be an ambitious and forward-looking endeavour. The European Union started as a dream of few and became the hope of many. The EU’s four fundamental freedoms – a distant dream and goal in 1957 – are now functioning and accepted as self-evident. Europeans have been living together in peace for longer than ever before. European citizens and companies enjoy unprecedented freedoms and prosper across the globe.
As the EU is facing unprecedented challenges, both at the global and European level, Estonia as the Member State holding the Council presidency is confident that there is sufficient unity and determination in Europe to tackle all problems dynamically. While negotiating the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in accordance with European Council guidelines and negotiating directives adopted by the Council, we also need to adapt to a union of 27 as swiftly as possible. We are confident that we will have the strength and capability to turn these challenges into opportunities, and we have reason to view the European Union and its future with great hope. European unity is expressed through both speaking with one voice and joint action. Together we are stronger than 60 years ago: hundreds of millions of Europeans benefit from living in a greater union. A union that has set aside old divisions and is willing to defend what has been achieved. A union that is determined and tenacious to resolve the current and future challenges. A union where Member States and institutions share responsibilities and take joint decisions that serve the interests of and improve life for all European citizens.
The Estonian Presidency strives for unity through balance; however, this does not mean settling for the lowest common denominator. Unity means broad-based support for the founding values of the European idea and the goals of the European Union, as well as respect for diversity – a fundamental European value – and regarding it as an asset. In building on these principles, Europe – a rather disparate political conglomeration – can succeed in striking a balance between various points of view, interests and traditions. Tenacity, unity and future-oriented thinking require the willingness to compromise from all parties and a constant balancing act between preservation and new developments. ‘One for all and all for one’ means that together we are stronger.
At the EU's 60th anniversary summit in Rome we endorsed a declaration of intent for the next decade. Debates on the future of Europe continue. The priorities of the Estonian Presidency build on the European Council’s strategic agenda and the common goals formulated in Rome. The following are important objectives for both Estonia and the Presidency: 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. In pursuing those objectives, we will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, commit to the principle of better regulation and examine opportunities for using various e-solutions.