Ratas at European Council: EU goal must be welfare, clean environment ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre).
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Speaking at a discussion regarding the strategic work plan, long-term budget and climate issues held during a meeting of EU heads of state and government leaders on Friday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said that the EU's objectives must be the welfare of Europeans, opportunities for entrepreneurs and a clean environment.

According to Ratas, the EU has an ambitious work plan for the next five years.

"What is needed now is to start implementing set goals," the prime minister was quoted by spokespeople as saying. "The EU's next long-term budget shows how serious we are about a common future, security, safety, developing the internal market, establishing better connections, the digital revolution and the transition to climate neutrality. It shows what kind of Europe we want for our people. Our goal is to make life better for all Europeans and entrepreneurs."

State leaders discussed the total volume of the future long-term budget and its distribution between large fields of policy. Finland, the current president of the Council of the EU, must present proposals regarding the budget negotiation package by the European Council meeting in December.

The Europea Council was also attended by future President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who provided an overview of the priorities of the new Commission.

Climate neutrality by 2050

At the climate discussion, Ratas said that Estonia recently decided to support the EU's goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

"We made this decision after along and through impact analysis," he explained. "I believe that we can achieve climate neutrality by working together to establish supportive conditions and transitional measures. The future budget of the EU must certainly support the achievement of climate objectives."

According to the Estonian head of government, in addition to the EU's leading role in tackling climate issues, global efforts need to be stepped up as well.

"The contribution of every individual, region and country is needed," he stressed.

EU leaders are planning on discussing Europe's long-term climate strategy and future ambitions at the Council meeting in December.

The Council also confirmed the appointment of Christine Lagarde as the next President of the European Central Bank (ECB). Lagarde is scheduled to assume office on Nov. 1, replacing Mario Draghi.

Estonia still supports North Macedonia, Albania

At Thursday's foreign relations discussion, attending heads of state and government leaders discussed opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, but did not agree to do so. The Council is to return to the topic ahead of a summit to be held in Zagreb next May.

"[EU] member states sadly did not find unity for launching accession talks," Ratas said. "North Macedonia and Albania have both done good work and carried out big reforms. Estonia strongly supports launching accession talks with both countries. We have always been of the opinion that if conditions are met, the EU's door must be open."

On Thursday evening, EU leaders also discussed relations with Turkey in connection with the latter's military activity in northeast Syria and illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ratas expressed hope that the joint announcement of the U.S. and Turkey regarding a ceasefire will help reach peace and end military activity in Syria.

"This conflict can only be resolved through a political transition, not by force," he said. "At the same time, political dialogue with Turkey is vital for finding a solution."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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