Riigikogu, 10 December 2019 – Today in the Riigikogu, while giving an overview of the European Union policy, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas spoke of security, the goal of climate neutrality, the Digital Single Market, and Estonia’s other key objectives in the union over the coming years. “Europe must show hope for the future, be the solution, and inspire future generations. “Just as when we hear the word “Estonia”, the word “Europe” must speak to our souls,” Prime Minister Ratas emphasised.
According to Prime Minister Ratas, it is in Estonia’s interest to have an influential, united, value-based, solidary, and internally effective EU in the world. “Next year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Estonian constitution, not just to commemorate the beginning of statehood, the state based on the rule of law, and hard-won freedom, but also the fundamental rights and freedoms Estonia shares with the rest of Europe. The wave of freedom that swept over Eastern Europe three decades ago stemmed from the desire and wish to enjoy the human rights and democratic freedoms of the free world,” said Ratas. “Our geopolitical, ecological, and technological challenges today are also issues of human freedoms, opportunities, and rights. Working together in Europe, we are addressing these challenges in a way that creates opportunities, increases freedoms, and respects human dignity,” the prime minister said.
In his overview of the Western Balkan countries and the Eastern Partnership, the prime minister stressed that the countries and peoples striving for democratic ideals, human rights, and social reforms must be given the opportunity to be part of the European family that shares common values. “North Macedonia and Albania deserve a new opportunity,” said Ratas.
Concerning the objective of achieving climate neutrality, Ratas said that we know today we are capable of it, as well as what we need to do to achieve it. “I am pleased that a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn Centre confirmed the conviction I already had that Estonia can achieve climate neutrality with facts,” said the prime minister, highlighting the joint appeal to EU’s heads of state and government by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “Our message is that due to the volume of climate investments, it is not right to reduce the overall long-term budget of the European Union or the resources that enable the Baltic States to achieve these goals,” said Ratas.
According to Ratas, the EU impact assessment of the following steps will be completed next year. “Important decisions must be based on the best possible knowledge. Then, we will make concrete proposals that must be realistic and executable, so that we can truly reach climate neutrality in Europe. It shows that not only must we do the right things, but things must also be done in the right way,” said the prime minister.
The prime minister expressed his conviction that great opportunities must be seen in the transition to climate neutrality and that it should be technology-neutral and as market-driven as possible. “As we do not have a magic wand with the right sources of energy, we should not begin to throw aside opportunities to provide energy security to countries from a choice of clean technologies. We also need to continue to strengthen our energy security and security of supply through external connections,” said the prime minister. He said he was pleased that this week, the Estonian-Finnish gas pipeline BalticConnector will be opened in Paldiski, and expressed the hope to join the Central European synchronous grid in the middle of the decade.
In the presentation, Ratas also stressed the importance of Rail Baltica in achieving climate goals and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to its construction.
Speaking about the EU’s Digital Single Market, Ratas emphasised the need to invest more in developing the generation’s technological capabilities. “We must have the courage to create opportunities for innovation-driven data management in key sectors, such as energy, transport, and health,” said Ratas. “Europe must also find a solution to the data economy issues in its external trade relations and create legal clarity for the development of artificial intelligence,” said the prime minister, stressing that the draft of the Estonian “kratt” law (legislation for regulating AI) will also be presented to the Riigikogu next year.
Full speech: https://www.valitsus.ee/et/uudised/peaminister-juri-ratase-ulevaade-valitsuse-euroopa-liidu-poliitika-teostamisest-riigikogus
Photos (Riigikogu, Erik Peinar): https://www.flickr.com/photos/stenbockimaja/albums/72157712142096737