Heads of government of the Nordic and Baltic countries, known as the NB8, met in Helsinki on Wednesday to discuss common regional concerns regarding security, energy markets and hybrid threats, as well as EU policies, transatlantic relations and cooperation within the EU.
The meeting focused on regional security and cooperation, as well as on topics ranging from military exercises and cyber threats to energy infrastructure.
"The cooperation of Estonia and the Nordic countries in various international associations is increasingly growing, both in the field of hybrid threats and cybersecurity," Ratas said according to a government press release. "Cyber threats and attacks do not discriminate between state borders, which is why these need to be handled globally. We need to ensure a faster and more extensive information exchange.
The Estonian prime minister noted he was pleased that Norway had recently decided to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn, adding that they are currently discussing the participation of other Nordic countries as well.
"The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats has recently begun operating in Helsinki," he continued. "At the center, a combination of security threats is analyzed, including the impact of disinformation on democratic processes. Estonia, along with several European countries and the US, is one of the founders of the centers of excellence."
EU presidency-related topics discussed
At the meeting, Ratas provided the other Baltic and Nordic heads of government an overview of the progress of the current Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, and participants discussed their expectations for the remaining two months of the presidency.
"All EU leaders have streamlined digital developments — there is no going back to paper now," the prime minister commented. "The commitment to the development of a 5G network in Tallinn and the Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment are only some of the examples of accomplishments achieved thus far. We can move forward quickly now, as the authorities, entrepreneurs, and people trust the digital developments thanks to the fact that we also pay great attention to cybersecurity."
Ratas likewise brought up the signing of the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Social Summit to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden on Nov. 17. "One of the most important tasks of the EU is improving the welfare of people as well as protecting their rights and freedoms," he said. "This is why the unanimous endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights is of symbolic significance and I am proud to sign it in the name of 28 EU member states."
The Estonian prime minister called upon his Nordic and Baltic colleagues to bear the EU's Eastern Partners in mind. "The security, economic growth and well-being of our Eastern Partners also help ensure a stronger Europe, which is why the EU must support them," he said. "We need joint activities that visibly and tangibly improve people's everyday lives. I expect courage, resolution and ambition from all of my colleagues at the Eastern Partnership summit taking place in Brussels on Nov. 24."
The prime ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia meet every fall during the session of the Nordic Council. The NB8 is led this year by Norway.
Prior to Wednesday's NB8 meeting, Ratas met with Estonian schoolchildren and teachers in Helsinki as well as visited the Estonian House, which is home to the Tuglas Society, the Estonian Institute, an Enterprise Estonia office and the Union of Estonian Societies in Finland.
Editor: Aili Vahtla