Ambassador presents the priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council

An open and innovative European economy, a secure and protected Europe, a digital Europe with free movement of data and an inclusive and sustainable Europe, are the four main priorities of the Estonian EU Council Presidency, as presented Thursday at an event in the EU House in Nicosia by the Ambassador of Estonia to Cyprus based in Athens Margus Rava.

As part of the presentation of the priorities of the six-month rotating Presidency, the Estonian Ambassador referred to Estonias key features, both the positive ones, such as eGovernment as well as the negative, while highlighting the position of the country regarding the Cyprus issue.

Estonia both as a country but also as a Presidency of the Council of Ministers has been supporting and will support the aim of finding a solution to the problem in a just and viable way to both communities on the island, he said.

He also reminded that Estonia is working very closely with Cyprus government, to introduce the same principles in the e-governance in Cyprus. Cooperation started in January 2016 during the visit of the Prime Minister of Estonia in Cyprus.

Presenting the priorities of the Estonian Presidency, the Ambassador of the country noted that European citizens want to live well and European citizens want to feel secure, which is no news, it is, however, the main parameter in the planning of the priorities of the Estonian Presidency.

An open and innovative European economy

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European economy has to be open and innovative to stay competitive. And is in competition with other major world economies, stressed Rava. As he pointed out economy can only be successful if it’s open, to opportunities, to change, to trade and open to new ideas.

As he said Estonian Presidency will work on the services package, finalizing banking union, capital markets union, energy union. It will also launch, he added, negotiations for the definitive cross border VAT system and also for electronic trade.

Safe and secure Europe

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Regarding safety and security in Europe, he said that the Presidency will continue implementing Valetta Action Plan and action plans on return of migrants who are not entitled to international protection. It will also continue working on modernizing the Common European Asylum System.

Solutions on other security challenges include first making financing of terrorism more difficult, facilitating cooperation between police and security forces in different countries, also by creating inter-operable data basis and IT solutions between different member states so that exchange of information could take place when needed, he said.

He added that Estonia will seek to determine the appropriate level of defence spending of the EU member states and reach an agreement on the revision of a common funding of EU operations within Common Security and Defence Policy.

A digital Europe and free movement of data

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A prosperous and sustainable Europe needs to embrace technological transformations and we have to seize the opportunities offered by this embrace of new technologies and the fact that the world is becoming more and more digital, said Rava.

He added that the free movement of data is something that Estonia believes that could become one day the fifth freedom in the EU to complement the Single Market.

For that we need to find ways to ensure that data is used in a secure way and for the benefit of individuals, enterprises, and for the collective benefit of all of our governments, he said.

The Presidency as, he said, will focus on the increased use of e-solutions and the free movement of data, as well the development of cross-border e-services in all policy fields.

An inclusive and sustainable Europe

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The Ambassador also said that the Presidency will concretely continue to work on the Europass decision that documents people’s skills and qualifications that can be used throughout the EU. We will look at some aspects of work-life balance, like whether a European level minimum can be agreed on the length of maternity leave or paternity leave for that matter, he said.

He also outlined some of the problems Estonia, has, as the very high CO2 emissions, more than double the average European level, a big gender pay gap as men earn more than women, a relatively high alcohol consumption even if it is decreasing and a demographic problem with an ageing population.

Source: Cyprus News Agency