Estonia 200 on Friday introduced its programme for the upcoming European Parliament elections, titled "Estonia IS Special!" The programme highlights Estonia's opportunities to make Europe more innovative and digital and less bureaucratic.
"We are known as a daring, innovative, digital nation whose people are entrepreneurial, hardworking and forward-thinking," said Lauri Hussar, Estonia 200's top candidate in the elections. "We are listened to and reckoned with. These are the values, knowledge and experience that Estonia must represent and champion in Europe."
This year marks 15 years since Estonia's accession to the EU, he highlighted.
"This is long enough to take responsibility for what is happening in Europe," Mr Hussar said. "Therefore our programme speaks somewhat more of what Estonia can do in the changing of Europe."
In its introduction, the programme notes that Estonia is special as it is bigger than its population would suggest. Estonia's intelligence to develop to be bigger and stronger than its status as a small country suggests has created several advantages for the country by now.
Estonia 200's programme for the European Parliament elections lists 38 steps with which Estonia will help Europe take a leading role in the world again.
The first chapter, titled "Estonia Shows the Way," focusses on steps with which Estonia will help other member states develop administrations based on e-state solutions, reduce bureaucracy and improve export opportunities and the inclusion of the people.
According to Mr Hussar, in order to build a strong Europe, four things must be done: Europe must overcome internal division, its economic model must be sustainable, it must finally step into the digital age, and it must protect its borders, both physically and mentally.
"We will bring the EU that has sunk in the mire of regulations back to its original goals, which are peace, a common prosperous European economic space, and the advancing of freedoms — the free movement of people capital, goods and ideas," he said.
"We do not support the creation of a European army," the election programme states. "We will develop a well-protected external border and assume the same from others. We see Europe as a diverse union of cooperation, established in the name of common interests by independent countries with different cultures and histories."
Mr Hussar has previously stated that of the existing groups in the European Parliament, he would prefer to see Estonia 200 join the European People's Party (EPP).
Estonia 200 is fielding a full list of nine candidates for the upcoming elections, which, in addition to Mr Hussar, includes party chairwoman Kristina Kallas, former Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna, deputy party chairwoman Liina Normet, former Põlva County Governor Igor Taro, director of the European eCommerce & Omni-Channel Trade Association (EMOTA) Triin Saag, farmer Kaupo Kutsar, former director of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies Kristiina Tõnnisson, and businessman Marek Reinaas.
Party ratings published on Friday put support for Estonia 200, which failed to meet the 5% election threshold in the 3 March Riigikogu election, at more than 10%, meaning that the party is in competition for a seat in the European Parliament.
The 2019 European Parliament elections will take place in Estonia on 26 May. Voting in foreign missions will be open from 11-16 May, with advance and e-voting to begin on 16 May.
Editor: Aili Vahtla