The Estonian government at Thursday's meeting approved the program of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, outlining issues and values that Estonia wants to focus on over the next six months.
"Estonia is ready for the presidency," Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said according to a government press release. "We are ready to lead a union of 28 states which is home to more than 500 million people. The program approved today reflects our desire to keep the EU united, strong and forward-looking. Unity means supporting European ideas, principles and goals, but also making sure that no one feels left out or left behind. We wish to guide Europe toward decisions that bring tangible improvements to people's lives."
The program of the Estonian presidency of the EU is composed of four priority areas, as described by the Estonian government.
An open and innovative European economy
Estonia feels that an attractive business environment and functioning trade partnerships help stimulate job creation and the economy. Cutting down on excessive bureaucracy and making it easy to do business is essential for an open and innovative economy. Supporting economic growth and job creation means taking full advantage of the potential of the single market. Scientific research must also be supported in order to keep Europe open to innovation and new technologies. Integrating the EU's energy systems and markets is vital for ensuring a secure and affordable energy supply for customers.
A safe and secure Europe
The Estonian presidency values the security and safety of Europe. A Europe without borders requires joint solutions in security and external border policies, as well as in migration and asylum policy. In many ways, security is reliant on modern IT solutions and databases as well as closer cross-border cooperation. During its presidency, Estonia will make the effort to reinforce surveillance over Europe's external borders, and hopes to contribute to providing security, peace and stability in the EU's immediate neighborhood and beyond.
A digital Europe and the free movement of data
Estonia considers it important to develop digital society, the precondition for which is the free movement of data. High-speed, high-quality and accessible internet connectivity is one of the cornerstones of a smart, data-led economy. The EU is at an early stage in developing a data-led economy. The Estonian presidency will emphasize that digital society needs to be developed in all aspects of life.
An inclusive and sustainable Europe
The Estonian presidency deems it important to stand for an inclusive Europe, where equal opportunities are ensured for all. This means supporting a better balance in work and family life, increasing opportunities for young people as well as expanding volunteer activities. Estonia finds it important to promote a cleaner living environment, which can be ensured with the help of a green economy and implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Editor: Aili Vahtla