Members of the foreign affairs and national defense committees of the parliaments of the European Union as well as members of the European Parliament stressed the importance of unity in their meetings in Tallinn on Friday and Saturday as well as the need for more coordinated cooperation.
The opening session of an interparliamentary conference held in Tallinn as part of the parliamentary dimension of Estonia’s ongoing EU council presidency took the form of a discussion between Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Alexander Stubb, and Estonian MPs Marko Mihkelson and Hannes Hanso.
In their discussion as well as in interjections from the attending parliamentarians, the importance of the European Union as a global political, economic, and military factor was stressed repeatedly—along with the need for increased cooperation and coordination among member states.
The EU was a value-based union and therefore needed to defend is founding principles, President Kaljulaid stressed. This did include making it clear to anyone arriving here that there could be no compromises, and that the fundamental importance of the values of Europe’s societies couldn’t be denied.
There was a consensus that more coordination was necessary, though differences were apparent across political convictions and member states in terms of policy and decision-making. Still, participants made it clear that the union’s common foreign and security policy is a priority across the union in the light of recent developments, such as Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, and the country’s failure to adhere to the Minsk Agreements.
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, David McAllister (EPP), spoke about the potential of the European Union to be a global pioneer in shaping foreign policy, and stressed the need to keep up current efforts. Diplomacy was the only way to ensure this, McAllister said.
The speakers all emphasized the need to protect and develop democracy, human rights, and economic and political freedoms in Europe. The important role of the EU in ensuring free trade and security in a globalized world was also stressed repeatedly by the panelists as well as the delegates.
In the session on transatlantic relations, U.S. political expert Robert Nurick spoke on how important it is to coordinate the European Union’s defense efforts with NATO.
High representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, Frederica Mogherini, said that it is not the size of the national defense budget that counts, but the way the money is spent. Exchange of information is also crucial, especially in light of recent terror attacks on European cities, Mogherini said. New initiatives at the national as well as the EU level needed to include cyberdefense as well, she stressed.
Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE) concluded the foreign policy part of the conference, describing the state of play outside the EU borders, and saying that security can’t be divided into an internal and external aspect.
The conference is continuing on Saturday with a focus on issues of defense policy and security.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR