Stenbock House, 23 November 2021 – Today Prime Minister Kaja Kallas provided the Riigikogu with an overview of what the government has done to date to implement European Union (EU) policy and of its plans on the basis of which it will be setting its EU policy priorities for 2022-2023.
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“Estonia’s development and that of the EU are directly linked,” Prime Minister Kallas remarked. “The EU is only as effective as we want it to be – that is for us to determine.”

The head of government noted that issues related to European development are just as much domestic issues, and just as important, which is why European development needs to be treated with prudence and care. “That relationship works both ways,” she added: “matters that are of national importance to Estonia, that come before the Riigikogu – the pandemic, fossil fuel prices, the climate crisis, our forestry strategy, inequality, security – are issues that are important throughout Europe.”

The engine that drives Estonia is its connections

“Estonia champions European values and does everything it can to ensure that the EU speaks with one voice – a voice of authority – on the world stage,” Prime Minister Kallas said. “The basic freedoms of the EU and its single market are important to us, and we will continue to promote the free movement of data. Reliable connectivity presents us with a great opportunity: networking opens doors to small countries and entrepreneurs.”

The head of state said that although cooperation is important, trust is even more vital. “We have to have trust that is based on shared principles and values,” she stated. “It is important to us that we boost cooperation and trust, as well as interdependence and solidarity between our allies and partners in Europe. We have to offer these opportunities to those who subscribe to a rules-based approach and want to fashion a future based on trust.”

Prime Minister Kallas also remarked on the fixed views that some have of the EU. “We have come to regard it as a regulative superpower, as an enforcer and arbitrator of agreed norms,” she said. “But we must not forget that Europe as a project is also about freedoms. We have to stay united in order to overcome the pandemic and ward off hybrid threats. Europe is about working together and how gratifying that can be.”

The green transition as a civic revolution

“Our EU policy priorities for the next couple of years are to support Estonia’s development via innovation and the green transition,” the head of government explained. “We have to make the most of the opportunities presented by the green transition: we will be adopting alternatives that reduce energy prices for end-consumers but that are also better for the environment. The green transition is not an obstacle but rather a vehicle for us to act more smartly, more sustainably and more economically.”

Prime Minister Kallas cautioned that the biggest challenge for Estonia and the EU in the coming decades would be implementing the green transition: using sustainable energy resources, protecting the environment and guaranteeing energy security. “Implementing the transition should fill us with hope rather than fear,” she said: “that same feeling we had before we made our Tiger Leap, with our curiosity for all things technical and clever implementation of digital technology for the benefit of our country driving us towards a better Estonia for everyone. Sustainability itself represents our next great opportunity for development.”

The head of state warned that Estonia is not an island untouched by climate change. “We need to be aware of the price we will pay if we give up the fight,” she said. “Temperatures are rising here, too, and our dependence on fossil fuels is only increasing, not to mention the new normal that will see millions, perhaps even billions of people abandoning their homes in search of a better living environment. The green transition does not mean homes going unheated, or beef burgers and sauna stoves and internal combustion engines being banned. It simply means that we have to pay closer attention to the footprint our actions leave behind.”

Full text of address: https://valitsus.ee/en/news/pm-kallas-address-riigikogu-eu-policy-and-priorities-2022-2023

Government Communication Unit