Estonian PM: Germany taking over EU presidency at a very important time for Europe

  • 2020-06-30
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas wished Germany success in taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union and expressed conviction that the presidency, which is taking place at a very important time for the whole of Europe, will strengthen European unity and help relaunch and reform its economy.

"As the EU presidency holder, Germany has a very important role to play in maintaining our cooperation so that European people and businesses can emerge quickly and successfully from the crisis caused by the coronavirus," Ratas was quoted by spokespeople as saying. "I am convinced that, under the German presidency, we will reach an agreement as soon as possible on the next EU seven-year budget and economic recovery plan, which are important for the well-being of our people."

Merkel gave an overview of the priorities of the German EU presidency.

Ratas gave Merkel an overview of Estonia's priorities for the European economic relaunch plan and the EU's next long-term budget. Speaking about the EU budget, the prime minister emphasized the need to establish cross-border connections, including Rail Baltic, the need to harmonize direct support to farmers and increase funding for cohesion policy. The European relaunch plan must strengthen Europe's resilience to a possible re-emergence of the virus, accelerate economic reforms and help bring about the digital and green revolution.

Digital issues are also the focus of the German presidency. Ratas noted the good cooperation that started at the Tallinn Digital Summit during the Estonian presidency in 2017 and considered it important to set new ambitious goals for the development of the modern economy and the digital internal market. "The debate and decisions on the data economy that were supposed to take place in March should be taken during the German presidency and the crisis has also shown the social importance of this technology, as well as its untapped potential. I am convinced that a European digital identity and digital signatures would make it easier for businesses and people to do business across borders," the prime minister said.

Ratas and Merkel also discussed future relations between the EU and the United Kingdom. "The United Kingdom is and will remain a close friend, significant ally and partner from security all the way to economic issues," the prime minister said.

When touching upon climate issues, Ratas expressed Estonia's support for achieving the EU-wide climate neutrality goal by 2050 and noted that the European Green Deal will help to achieve this goal.

Key objectives for the German EU presidency include the European economic recovery plan and the EU's future long-term budget for 2021-2027, the EU's future relationship with the United Kingdom, digital issues and competitiveness, climate goals and Europe's role in the world.

On Wednesday, July 1, Germany will take over the presidency of the Council of the EU from Croatia. Germany last held the EU presidency in the first half of 2007.