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Debates
Wednesday, 5 July 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

6. Presentation of the programme of activities of the Estonian Presidency (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Marju Lauristin, on behalf of the S&D Group . – Madam President, it is really a great day of joy for all Estonians, because all Estonia have been preparing ourselves to this first Presidency. I remember when we started this way to the European Union in 1997, we were poor but we were bold, and we were absolutely sure that the European Union is our destiny: it is our goal and we bring the best of us to that. The same year, we started also the programme ‘Tiger Leap’. It was a programme of digitalisation. We brought computers in all the Estonian schools, and we were sure that digitalisation is our shortcut – shortcut to the future; shortcut to the future where we are now. Here our Prime Minister is standing – the youngest prime minister in Europe – and bringing here both programmes connected with digitalisation, digital revolution really in Europe. What I want to stress is that our experience is showing that digital revolution is total. It is not only market, it is not only technology. In the first place it is new relationships in the whole society: a new type of services, a new type of well-being, a new type of engagement and activity and participation of people, and for that, I suppose, it is very important also to build trust. And as a President said, I suppose that is the most difficult task, because we can tell whatever we like about our good experiences, about digital and so on, but you have to convince the other 27 or 26 that it is that, and very often you will hear what we have heard here – ‘Oh, you are so small and bold, you can do that.’ But we are much bigger; we have bigger risks. We will wait.

But we know that Europe cannot wait. Europe cannot wait; Europe needs this; Europe needs to be the most competitive, biggest market in the world for most advanced technology, but also for most advanced society.

And I will also stress very much what already was said here. We are living not in a very happy moment for the world. We are looking what is going on around us. Yesterday we saw how Putin and the Chinese leader were embracing each other. We see what is happening in Turkey. We know that really Europe is one of the most important hopes for the world to preserve ideals of democracy, liberal democracy, human rights. These are values which cannot be left just to free flow. We have to protect them, fight for them, and as was said by the Prime Minister, Estonia is like also Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles: we know really the price of freedom. We know the price of the democracy, and for that I am sure that, under our Estonian Presidency, the European Union as a whole will be stronger also in this fight.

So I wish you good luck. I wish you strength and wisdom and trust.

(Applause)

 
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