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Ratas expects new EU budget to support more connected Europe

Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) met in Tallinn on Tuesday. Oct. 31, 2017.
Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) met in Tallinn on Tuesday. Oct. 31, 2017. Source: (Jürgen Randma/Government Office)

At Tuesday's meeting with European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) discussed the preparations for the next long-term budget of the European Union.

"The aim of the long-term budget of the European Union should be a stronger and more connected Europe," Ratas said according to a government press release. "A better-functioning internal market would increase both the welfare of the people of Europe and the profits of companies. To achieve this goal, contributions to infrastructure projects connecting different areas of Europe, such as Rail Baltic and the synchronization of the Baltic electricity system, are necessary."

According to the prime minister, Estonia also considers cohesion policy, harmonizing direct payment levels in the common agricultural policy, and the consistent consideration of digitalization important in the new long-term EU budget.

"Estonia stands for more Europe, but a smaller budget would be counterproductive for this purpose," he said. "Therefore, the size of the next budget of the EU should remain as large as the current one."

The European Commission will submit a proposal for a multiannual budget framework of the EU next May.

At their meeting, Ratas and Oettinger also discussed the results of the Tallinn Digital Summit and further action. "EU leaders have started taking digital development very seriously after the Tallinn summit," noted the Estonian head of government. "This emphasizes the need to strategically invest in digital innovation in industries and services, in modern infrastructure, such as 5G networks and supercomputers, but also in people and in companies' capabilities."

According to the European Commission, 100 million Europeans have never used the Internet, and 45 percent of the population and 37 percent of the workforce of the EU have insufficient digital skills. In turn, 42 per cent of the people with insufficient digital skills in the EU are unemployed, while 40 percent of employers in the EU have announced that they cannot find employees with required skills.

"Europe must be a pathfinder in digital changes," Ratas said, "But at the same time, we must make sure that people can keep up with these changes and adapt to them."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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