Speaking at the opening of the conference "Nation States or Member States? Reimagining the European Union" on Monday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) stressed that being European and being Estonian should not be an either-or choice.
"Do we see the future of the European Union as an alliance of nation states or a union of closely integrated member states? It is an important question for Europe, as the rise of nationalism has been a much-debated trend over recent years," Ratas said according to a government press release. "At times, it has come hand-in-hand with anti-EU sentiment, and populist and extremist views. Nevertheless, there should be no either-or choice between being a European and being an Estonian."
According to the Estonian prime minister, French President of Emmanuel Macron was right in claiming that Europe is now facing two major changes — becoming a digital society, and climate change. "As with climate change, there is a sense of urgency to act," he said. "Europe can only lead when she herself is a leader in digital, not a follower. The first Tallinn Digital Summit held on Sept. 29 demonstrated that EU leaders think alike in this regard."
Ratas found that although the EU is very much united by virtue of shared founding values, one another's differences are respected as well. "We must find a balance between new and conventional, risky and safe, economic, social and environmental, big and small, North and South, East and West,” he stressed.
The conference "Nation States or Member States? Reimagining the European Union" brings together leading scientists, members of think tanks, policymakers, and journalists, who will discuss the development of Europe in current, complicated times.
Over the course of the two-day conference, participants will consider whether the closely integrated EU is facing its end, whethr Europe will survive populism, can it still be held together by the shared economy and what the future of the EU's relationships with the U.K., Turkey and Ukraine will look like.
The keynote speakers of the conference are former Italian Prime Minister and Constitutional Court of Italy judge Giuliano Amato, and director and professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Director of the Global Governance Programme at the European University Institute in Florence Brigid Laffan. The conference is moderated by Marek Tamm, a professor at Tallinn University.
Editor: Aili Vahtla