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Estonian President: "We will handle this migration crisis if we show the resolve of our forebears"

Plenary Session Article - Institutions02-02-2016 - 15:53
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves adresses the Plenary   Toomas Hendrik Ilves (left) with Martin Schulz in the plenary chamber

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called on the European Union to act decisively regarding the migration crisis during a speech in plenary. "Let us now gather our wits and strengths," he told MEPs. "Leave behind the indecision, finger pointing and ducking of responsibility. We will handle this migration crisis if we show the resolve of our forebears."

The president also stressed the importance of solidarity: "We must act in solidarity with those member states that bear the brunt of the crisis. We must accept a functional form of burden sharing."

During his speech he underlined too that the EU's border controls needed to be strengthened: "We also must take full control over the EU's external borders. We cannot be borderless both inside and outside the Union."

Regarding the digital economy, Ilves warned that Europe's competitiveness was decreasing. "The digital revolution could be a blessing for the single market. Today we can see nascent pan-European markets in sectors like health care, banking and transport that only a few years ago seemed inherently local. Yet sector by sector, our legislation remains fractured between member states unprepared for the digital age. We are losing out due to the absence of a single market and losing our best and brightest to where the opportunities for them are greater."

Ilves is a former MEP who acted as vice chair of the foreign affairs committee. He first served in Parliament as an observer and later as a MEP in 2003-2006. In 2006 he became the first serving MEP to be elected president of his country. His second and last term as president of Estonia will come to an end in October.

REF. : 20160202STO12481