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Estonia hosts the EU presidency in the usual casual style

Daniel James Coll is keeping an eye on the goings-on at the Tallinn Culture Hub during the presidency.
Daniel James Coll is keeping an eye on the goings-on at the Tallinn Culture Hub during the presidency. Source: (ERR)

The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European union is now well under way, and so far there have been no major glitches. ERR News went along to Tallinn Creative Hub on Thursday, to the Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers to see how things are coming along.

On a day that the EU commission pledged a €35 million support package for Italy, to help with the migrant crisis, along with €1 million and increased support for North Africa and Libya, we look behind the scenes of the event to see how Estonia comes across as host.

Whilst the ministers mingled before their informal discussions on Thursday, the now infamous delivery robot meandered around the space; a near silent reminder of the Estonian optimism and innocent pig-headedness that drives this country’s innovation: we have game-changing ideas and we’re not going to let them forget it.

Down in the basement sit both the local and world media, a comfortable stone’ s throw from the conveniences, and conveniently next to the press conference space illuminated with blue uplighters. Birdsong fills the air, carried on a network of speakers, and flickering neon ‘e-Estonia’ signs are a further reminder of our far-reaching ambition. The vibe in here decidedly muted today, the feeling akin to midmorning at a hotel lobby.

The catering for both ministers and press looks to be on a par: for press situated near the extra working space, where the savvy are poised to pounce when the silverware arrives. The food is good. A good quality, simple interpretation of everyday Estonian fare arrives in abundance, remaining largely untouched; a sad juxtaposition against the topics of human tragedy and desperation being discussed not more than a few flights of stairs away, it could perhaps be said.

Despite the high profile nature of the meeting, there’s a wonderfully Estonian take on things, an unpretentious, laid-back feeling. It’s one of the admirable things about Estonia, for a country that likes to be seen to take itself seriously it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.

The Police and security are a credit to the ethos of the event: polite, professional, friendly yet thorough. Too many of these types of events in countries like the UK and US can be an excuse for the security services to flex their ever weakening muscles, giving rise to arrogant and unpleasant behaviour in the name of security. We are showing them that it doesn’t need to be that way, it’s a fact we should be very proud of, even if it’s just a detail.

This presidency is still in its infancy, yet shows signs of great promise. There is an interest in Estonia, our ideas and our development. There is also the distinct feeling coming from those travelling in from other EU member states that Estonia is not only the one to watch, but the one to learn from. We’re seeing more action with those words from across the EU, more decisiveness than just a few months earlier, and a definite pulling together. The EU project may have taken a few nasty knocks recently – from Greece, the migrant crisis and in particular, Brexit – but there seems to be a stronger determination than ever to make things work, and it’s about time too.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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