Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Monday met in Lisbon with Prime Minister António Costa ahead of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, where they discused Estonia's presidency priorities, defense cooperation and the digital internal market, among other topics.
The prime ministers' meeting also discussed topics such as the EU Neighbourhood Policy, the fight against terrorism, energy security and the Paris Agreement, according to a government press release.
On the subject of relations between Estonia and Portugal, Ratas affirmed that both bilateral relation and the Estonian-Portuguese alliance in the EU and NATO were very good. "If you were to look at a map, you would see that it's Europe which separates Portugal and Estonia," he said. "This is why I'm glad that Portugal understands the security concerns of the Baltic region so well and Estonia, in turn, the challenges coming from the southern neighborhood."
According to the Estonian prime minister, the most important challenge for Estonia in the second half of 2017 will be to maintain the unity and determination of the EU. "As the EU preidency, we intend to continue the asylum system reform and focus on the Eastern Partnership," he told Costa when presenting him with the priorities of Estonia's presidency of the EU, which begins on July 1. According to Ratas, the cornerstone of the EU's security and prosperity is in its successful and stable neighbors. "We consider cooperation with our eastern and southern partners paramount," he stressed.
Speaking about energy security, Ratas stressed that for small countries such as Estonia and Portugal, energy security is an important issue as the functioning of the state and the region greatly depend upon it. "Energy systems stopped being country-specific a long time ago — they are trans-regional," he said, adding that one of the most important objectives of Estonian energy policy is connecting its grid to the European system. Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian power systems are all still currently part of the Belorussian-Russian-Estonian-Latvian-Lithuanian (BRELL) network, from which they plan to desynchronize in favor of the Continental European network.
"I am pleased that Portugal is a pro-digital country and like-minded to Estonia," said Ratas, noting that the two countries have enjoyed excellent cooperation a well a exchanged experiences in the field of e-governance.
"The closeness of our relations is confirmed by the fact that the Estonian company Pipedrive has established a branch in Portugal; the number of Estonian companies that participated in the Lisbon Web Summit last fall was no less telling," Ratas highlighted, adding that the Web Summit had attracted considerable interest in Portugal among Estonian companies.
Ratas also invited his Portuguese counterpart to the summit dedicated to digital technology which is scheduled to take place in Tallinn in September.
Editor: Aili Vahtla