Estonia’s six members of the European Parliament agree that the presidency’s central topic could be the digital single market. Also important is the development of the union’s Eastern Partnership as well as its common security and defense policy.
Kelam: Presidency Estonian politicians and officials’ litmus test
“A successful presidency most of all means the ability to lead 27 governments with different characters as well as national and geographic conditions to agreements that fit common EU interests,” Tunne Kelam (IRL/EPP) said.
“This challenge is the litmus test for Estonia’s leading politicians and officials,” he added. Kelam has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004.
Lauristin: Digital society most important priority
In the opinion of Marju Lauristin (SDE/PES), one of the most important priorities of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union is driving the development of a digital society.
“As Estonia has repeatedly been recognized as a leader in this area, we have the duty to deal with this issue and to see the bills through that touch on it,” Lauristin said.
“Another priority is connected to our long-time responsibility for the the part of Europe that isn’t yet completely free and democratic. The Eastern Partnership is certainly a priority for Estonia,” she added. Marju Lauristin has been an MEP since 2014.
Toom: Develop cross-border e-commerce
Yana Toom (Center/ALDE) said she hoped that Estonia would contribute to the development of cross-border use of digital services during its presidency. “The Estonian e-government system is renowned for its openness and trustworthiness,” she said.
In addition, the digital single market and cross-border e-commerce were a priority, Toom said. She has been in the European Parliament since 2014.
Kallas: Estonia can work against fears associated with digitization
One of Estonia’s great advantages was its experience in digital matters, Kaja Kallas (Reform/ALDE) found. “Expectations towards Estonia as the presidency country are very high in this area,” she said.
Kallas also pointed out that several bills in the parliament touching on the development of a digital society and a digital single market would reach their final stage during Estonia’s presidency.
“In a lot of countries the technological revolution is associated with fears and opposition. Estonia has a chance to show that digitization is a driving force of which both citizens and businesses can benefit,” Kallas added. Kallas has been a member of the European Parliament since 2014.
Paet: Common defense a priority
Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE) said that next to a digital Europe and the free movement of data, common security and defense cooperation were important priorities. “And we certainly won’t get around the Brexit negotiations,” he added.
Paet, who is one of the authors of a report on a European defense union, sees it as important that Estonia stands for a Europe that can take care of its own defense. “To that end member states need to cooperate more in the area of defense, and invest at least 2 percent of their GDP in their security,” Paet said.
Paet was elected MEP in 2014.
Tarand: Estonia can help in the process of finding compromises
Commenting on the presidency, Indrek Tarand (independent/EGP) pointed to Estonia’s permanent representative in Brussels, Matti Maasikas. In a meeting with commission chairs of the parliament, Maasikas had said that Estonia preferred to try and outdo itself rather than make grand promises.
“I approve of this kind of tactical approach, and I believe that Estonia is able to help and find compromises in several processes,” Tarand said.
“But as we know very well, we might pick the topics, but life supplies the challenges. These challenges are impossible to predict, and dealing with them doesn’t necessary depend on a rotating presidency,” he added. Tarand has been an MEP since 2009.
Editor: Dario Cavegn