Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) traveled to Dublin on Wednesday, where he met with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, President Michael D. Higgins as well as members of the city's local Estonian community.
"After the Brexit referendum and before the elections in Europe's big countries, there was quite a bit of pessimism in the air," Ratas said according to spokespeople for the Estonian government. "I am sure that times like this for Europe are a thing of the past, and we are moving on guided by the spirit of cooperation. Europe is strong and more united, and able to adopt decisions which make life better for its people. This is demonstrated by agreements having a major impact in the fields of climate, defense cooperation and the digital domain reached during the past year."
Ratas and Varadkar described finding unanimity on the next long-term budget as one of the most important issues for the EU in the coming few years.
"Reaching agreement will be definitely difficult, since as of 2021 the U.K. will not be contributing to the EU budget as it has been doing to date," noted the Estonian head of government. "However, stable development of the European Union is important for Estonia, which is why it is in our interest that the budget retain its current size."
On the subject of the future of Europe, Ratas said that one must not rest on their laurels despite the strong support that EU membership enjoys among the Estonian people. "It is a responsibility and also a duty of politicians to constantly explain to the people how EU decisions influence and support their lives," he said.
In addition to the belief in a strong EU, Estonia and Ireland are bound together by both being champions of the digital. Ratas presented to his Irish counterpart the opportunities offered by Estonia's e-residency as well as the country's actions in developing 5G internet and legalizing artificial intelligence. "Irish businesses are welcome to develop future technologies with Estonia and in Estonia as well," he said.
While in Dublin, Ratas also delivered a presentation at the Institute of International and European Affairs, titled "Will hope and history rhyme again for Europe?" and met with President Michael D. Higgins.
On Wednesday evening, the prime minister met with the local Estonian community and the Friends of Estonia, as well as attended a concert of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir dedicated to the Estonian centennial.
A business delegation consisting of executives from the IT sector, wooden house manufacturers and architects, whose visit was organized by Enterprise Estonia, accompanied the prime minister on the trip.
At meetings with the business community, Ratas said that Estonian businesses are interested in helping to solve Ireland's housing shortage by supplying wooden houses to said market and creating new financing opportunities for property developers.
Editor: Aili Vahtla