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First month of EU presidency brings thousands of experts to Estonia

An event of the Estonian EU presidency taking place at Tallinn Creative Hub in July.
An event of the Estonian EU presidency taking place at Tallinn Creative Hub in July. Source: (Aron Urb/EU2017EE/Flickr)

The first month of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union, which officially began on July 1, brought a total of 4,588 experts from various fields to Estonia for informal ministerial meetings, expert commissions and conferences.

During the meetings held in Estonia and elsewhere in Europe in July, agreements were reached on various topics ranging from actions necessary t solve the migration crisis to the adoption of a joint declaration on developing high-speed 5G internet connections, according to a presidency press release.

"According to member states, our priorities are very relevant and require immediate action," said Director for European Union Affairs of the Government Office Klen Jäärats. "The delegates that have visited Estonia so far have been very satisfied with our work; we have received praise for the discussions, the organization of events as well as the hosting experience. We are particularly happy, however, that we have reached specific agreements in the first month of our presidency."

Since the formal launch of the Estonian EU presidency on June 29, Estonia has hosted 40 meetings of ministers, commissions and experts; an additional 200 meetings have been hosted in Brussels as well.

"By holding the presidency, Estonia's main role is to be a leader that helps find middle ground among various positions and needs," Jäärats explained. "Yet it is obvious that no presidency reaches agreements alone and it is always the result of teamwork." He noted that Estonia is taking over several topics from Malta, who held the EU presidency during the first half of 2017.

July accomplishments by priority area

An open and innovative European economy

  • quick agreement reached on 2018 EU budget position; further negotiations with European Parliament to continue in October and November
  • Japanese and EU leaders reached trade agreement enhancing EU-Japanese trade and economic partnership; work to continue on drawing up implementing documents

A safe and secure Europe

  • action plan for alleviation of migration situation in central Mediterranean approved at informal meeting of home affairs ministers in Tallinn
  • agreement reached on regulation regarding the qualification standards and equal rights and responsibilities of refugees
  • agreement reached on "Blue Card Directive" regarding highly qualified workers coming from third countries; bill aimed at increasing Europe's competitiveness and attracting highly qualified workers and economic transformers to Europe, offering them, under certain conditions, a residence and work permit valid throughout the EU ("EU Blue Card")

A digital Europe and the free movement of data

  • EU and Norwegian telecommunications ministers signed 5G declaration on development of of super-fast internet connections, technology and the Internet of Things
  • Digital Single Market Conference held; top field experts discuss the free movement of data, increasing Europe's competitiveness through a well-functioning digital society
  • on the free movement of data discuss incr
  • twin driverless buses free to the public launched for limited one-month run

An inclusive and sustainable Europe

  • EU ministers reaffirmed commitment to the Paris Agreement
  • Estonia and the next two EU presidency holders, Bulgaria and Austria, signed a joint trio declaration on making progress on gender equality in the EU over the next 18 months

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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