French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe will arrive in Tallinn on Wednesday to discuss the EU's organization of work and security-related matters with Estonia as the next president of the Council of the EU.
Philippe said in an interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian) published on Monday that he sees especially great potential for developing economic relations with Estonia in a number of strategic fields, such as the digital economy, renewable energy, transport infrastructure and military procurements.
"The primary goal of the visit naturally has to do with Estonia's upcoming presidency of the Council of the EU," said the French prime minister. "The president of France hosted Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on June 16. We wanted to deepen these contacts, as Estonia as the presidency must handle a number of matters important to France — I mean such topics as border security, asylum-related issues and the fight against terrorism. Also important is the matter of business trips."
According to Philippe, the trade volume between France and Estonia reached €550 million last year. "There are currently about 40 French businesses operating in Estonia," he highlighted. "This is good indeed, but does not meet the actual potential of our relations."
"I plan on visiting Tapa Army Base and meeting with French soldiers [there]," said the French head of government. "Since April, our soldiers have had the opportunity to participate in many NATO trainings and exercises. The improvement of interoperability has been an important goal in the placement of our troops and Estonia offers a very good opportunity for this. The participation of our forces is thus at once useful and necessary, considering the fact that the stability of Europe's borders has been made to waver. This is the idea beind our participation: let us act to the extent necessary, without being naive."
On his visit to Estonia, Philippe will be accompanied by Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau and Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi.
Editor: Aili Vahtla