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Ratas: European unity upcoming EU presidency’s most important priority

Ratas speaking in the Riigikogu, May 16, 2017.
Ratas speaking in the Riigikogu, May 16, 2017. Source: (Riigikantselei)

Unity and common action needed to be more than just a slogan, and declarations to the effect weren’t enough, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said in a speech in the Riigikogu on Tuesday. "To the chagrin of cynics, populists, and doomsday prophets, Europe is doing well," Ratas said, adding that it was now about putting into practice what the members had agreed on in Bratislava and Rome.

According to Ratas, declaring unity isn’t enough, but there needs to be a clear wish to actually see it through. “To the chagrin of cynics, populists, and doomsday prophets, Europe is doing well. The shock and contemplation that followed the United Kingdom’s referendum led first to the summit in Bratislava, and then to the declaration of Rome,” Ratas said, saying that Europe’s process of finding back to its values showed how strong the European foundation and cooperation really were.

Ratas said that he was proud of the declaration of Rome and what it said. “This is a declaration of a union that isn’t afraid to be open to the world, and that wants to maintain and developed what it has achieved together,” the prime minister said.

What was on the union’s agenda for the future was in the interest of Estonia: Security, defense, and the meaning of the neighbor, the need to develop the single market with the necessary connections, but also the fearlessness needed to deal with technological developments and the dangers they held.

Europe’s ordeal by fire would be how well all of it could actually be put into practice, Ratas said. The Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union was only a small part of a much longer path, and its priorities would carry on the spirit of the Bratislava summit and the declaration of Rome.

Ratas repeated the four priorities for the presidency stated earlier: An open Europe with an innovative economy, a safe and defended Europe, a digital Europe where information flowed freely, and an inclusive and lasting Europe.

Though this went along with both Bratislava and Rome, this didn’t mean that Estonia would deal with what was already happening in the EU anyway. “It means that the EU has dealt with issues for years that are important to Estonia. We’ve had our own role putting these topics on the agenda and keeping them there—the declaration of Rome is neither the first nor the last document of the European Union that has Estonia’s fingerprints on it,” the prime minister said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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