WATCH: President Ilves tells EP Europe stands to become second tier player in digital economy ({{commentsTotal}})

Toomas Hendrik Ilves
Toomas Hendrik Ilves Source: (European Parliament)

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg today on the migration crisis and the need for a single digital market.

"Europe is amidst a transformational crisis," Ilves said in his speech at the European Parliament. "A transformational crisis where we shall put to the test all that Europe has achieved, step by step, since Monnet and Schuman. We are approaching a tipping point where either we become stronger or we let fissiparous forces to prevail."

Ilves called on European countries to "gather our wits and strengths, leave behind this indecision, finger-pointing and ducking of responsibility."

"We will handle this migration crisis if we show the resolve of our forebears," he told the MEPs, recalling the migration crisis Europe faced over half a centry ago, in the aftermath of World War II. "We must act in solidarity with those member states that bear the brunt of the crisis, we must accept a functional form of burden-sharing," he stressed.

In the second half of his speech, the President called on the EU to develop a single digital market, warning that the union and the economies and governance of its individual member states will soon fall behind. "Make no mistake, Europe stands to become a second tier player, with not only the US but also India and China taking leading positions, if we do not keep up."

"Sector-by-sector, our legislation remains fractured between member states and unprepared for the digital age, we are losing out to the absence of a single market and losing our best and brightest to where the opportunities for them are greater," Ilves pointed out.

He suggested a fifth freedom be added to the Four Fundamental Freedoms of the internal market: the Free Movement of Data. "This Fifth Freedom before could be folded into the existing Four freedoms, but today it is distinct enough to stand on its own," he explained.

Watch his full speech here:

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