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Onsdagen den 3 oktober 2018 - Strasbourg Reviderad upplaga

4. Diskussion med Estlands premiärminister Jüri Ratas om EU:s framtid (debatt)
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  Presidente. – L’ordine del giorno reca la discussione con il Primo ministro dell'Estonia, Jüri Ratas, sul futuro dell'Europa (2018/2731(RSP)).

Ringrazio il Primo ministro dell’Estonia per aver accettato il nostro invito a partecipare al dibattito sul futuro dell’Europa. Noi stiamo ascoltando tutti i primi ministri, ma voglio ringraziare in modo particolare Jüri Ratas per avere sempre, durante la Presidenza estone, dato grande rilievo alla posizione del Parlamento. Non c’è stata riunione del Consiglio, anche informale, alla quale io non sia stato invitato e non abbia avuto un ruolo preminente. Per questo lo ringrazio e può contare certamente, in questa direzione, sul sostegno di un Parlamento che vuole anche avere il potere di iniziativa legislativa. Signor Primo ministro, ha la parola, benvenuto, ancora una volta, nell’Aula di Strasburgo.


  Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia. – Mr President, Vice-President of the Commission, distinguished leaders of the political groups and Members of the European Parliament, Europe is a thought that needs to become a feeling. I am honoured to be back in this great House. I would like to thank President Tajani for organising the debates on the future of Europe and for giving me the opportunity to participate.

Today, we can all together congratulate our German friends, and all Europeans on the occasion of German Unity Day. For my generation, this day symbolises not only the end of the division of Germany, but it also heralded the liberation of Eastern Europe and the start of the eastward enlargement of the European Union. It made possible the starting of accession talks 20 years ago. It has been an amazing journey for our country, for Estonia. The role of the European Parliament in it has been remarkable. I would like to thank you, honourable Members of the European Parliament, for your support.

This year, Estonia celebrates the hundredth anniversary of our statehood. Like Germans in the east of the country, we had to wait and dream for 50 years about freedom, rule of law and justice. I very clearly remember watching Finnish TV, as this was our only connection to the free world. This is why I, from the bottom of my heart, dislike borders in Europe: those still existing for Member States who have fulfilled all criteria to join Schengen; those that have been partly reintroduced following the migration crisis – although I understand the concerns back then – and those that still may be erected, should we collectively fail in Brexit negotiations, which I refuse to accept. Against this background, it is not hard to understand why Estonians have such a special emotional connection to Europe.

I can only agree with the Irish singer Bono that Europe is not only an idea, but also a feeling and a destiny, because, and I quote, our ‘values and aspirations make Europe so much more than just a geography. They go to the core of who we are as human beings, and who we want to be’.

Compared to its share of territory and population in the world, Europe is small and diverse. But by sharing our sovereignty and pooling our strength, by having common policies, we have been able to make a difference in the world. I believe that we all have shared interests in rules-based and effective multilateral order, built on liberal values and democratic principles.

We also have common interests in open, free and fair global markets. It is what the world expects from us and it is what our citizens want. It is Europe that protects our values and freedoms from the turbulence of today’s world. Europe’s geographical ties and our global interdependence as the world’s largest trader dictate that it is vital to have a world that functions. We Europeans are all stronger together, and I hope that we will spare no effort in securing our collective interests and the values in the world.

Europe’s core strength is its diversity. Being European adds a rich layer to one’s identity. Nothing represents this better than the fate of small nations in the European family. I would like to paraphrase former Estonian President Lennart Meri, who once said that small nations in Europe are the glue, the oil and the cement in the European construction. Therefore, allow me to express here modest enthusiasm when it comes to grand institutional designs in Europe, which could lead to a lesser role for smaller nations in our common institutions. Less diversity will also result in less Europe.

Today, in this limited timeframe, please allow me to focus on only some of the areas essential for Europe according to Estonia. Firstly, preserving unity within the EU. The key for our common future is our ability to keep the EU united and move forward with the EU’s positive agenda. There is a saying that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Future is not something abstract or another Treaty-change. We are building our future every day. We are doing this by providing answers to the concrete concerns of our citizens, and, where possible, building connections that bring Europeans closer together – human, physical and professional connections.

Europeans also expect us to tackle transformational challenges that are too big for a single Member State, such as European defence, climate change and digital transformation. We will also have to find answers to global population growth and migration, triggered by these changes. I therefore hope for an ambitious Multiannual Financial Framework that reflects these challenges. A new Multiannual Financial Framework is actually the best indicator of how we will see our common future.

I agree with President Macron that the European Union depends on the feeling of unity. But as we know, unity does not have to mean uniformity. Sometimes we should simply recognise our different views, without compromising on the same values. I find different levels of direct taxes in Member States to be perfectly normal. I also feel that, with a European budget of the size of only 1% of GNI, fundamental decisions of a redistributive nature can be made at national or even local level through social dialogue.

At the same time, we must have a credible framework that is vital for our common future, like the spending of 2% of our GDP to keep Europe safe or aiming at an expenditure level of 3% of GDP on research and innovation. Also, we expect Europe to be big in big things, but at the same time it has to be excellent in details. Without standards and fine details, the Single Market or Capital Markets Union would simply not function.

We are now trying to find consensus when deciding on the core elements on how to manage migration. It is difficult, but we all realise that short-term measures will only bring short-term solutions. All of us need to show solidarity in the way that suits best our common purpose and each Member State’s particularities. The key in decreasing irregular migration is to work with third countries. We must use all the instruments that our trade, visa and development policies offer.

The new Africa-EU alliance proposed by President Juncker to support jobs, skills and private investments in Africa definitely serves long-term effects. Estonia pulls its weight here. Last November I signed an e-government cooperation agreement between Estonia and the African Union. Estonia is geographically distant from Africa, but the digital world does not recognise distance.

Secondly, it is important to maintain and strengthen the EU’s influence in the global economy. I cannot imagine a better example than the Single Market to prove that we are bigger and stronger together. But it still remains unfinished. Take, for example, the field of services: while the sector continues to grow unlike anything else, especially in the digital domain, we are far from using its full cross-border potential. For example, public services remain essentially national.

My good colleague, Mark Rutte, called the services market the ‘elephant in the room’ when standing in front of you here in June. I understand him well, and I always worry: when did talking about the completion of the Single Market, our economic engine, become a taboo? It is high time that we set ourselves new goals in building the Single Market.

‘Success in creating effective artificial intelligence could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. Or the worst. We just don’t know’ – a famous quote by Stephen Hawking. In the field of artificial intelligence, the race is definitely on. Everybody is keen on exploring and developing strategies and reaping the benefits while we are still struggling to make it work. As it moves from the age of invention into the age of implementation of AI, Europe has to reinforce our values and lead technological change in the public and private sectors. We need progress in the areas of the free movement of data, the data economy and artificial intelligence.

In the world of hybrid warfare, cybercrime and fake news, security in cyberspace should come by design and go hand in hand with emerging technologies. We need to build data integrity into systems, to be able to guarantee that the sensors, inputs and computing of the robotic systems are not compromised. We need to develop strong digital identities, in order to be able to distinguish real persons from fake unfriendly bots. We need to establish practice with a strong professional spirit on keeping AI open and transparent.

I am very pleased with the Commission proposals resulting from the Tallinn Digital Summit last year, especially our commitment to invest in technological and social readiness throughout the new budget. It is time to adopt proposals to complete the Digital Single Market and enable digital transformation. The world will not wait.

Thirdly, it is important to maintain and enhance internal and external security. All Eurobarometer surveys have shown that our people are most concerned about security. Our long-term focus should be on prevention of crime and illegal activities at our borders. A high level of border and customs surveillance ensures security throughout Europe. Common standards and investments into both technical and operational features in border surveillance are required. Only then can we realistically assess what to expect from the 10 000 European border guards that President Juncker has proposed.

Also, effective control of people and goods at our external borders demands reliable databases that can communicate with each other. We do not need to collect the same data in different information systems, we just have to make them able to share the information. Interoperability of EU-wide databases by 2020 is the only way forward. We must also explore how to develop better synergies between the internal security, border control and customs information systems. Similarly, Romania and Bulgaria would also benefit from membership in the Schengen area.

The call for European nations to show that they take their security seriously has been around for a long time, and clearly it will not go away. This is not merely a question about maintaining or increasing our military capabilities. This is ultimately a question about how serious Europe is about its role in its immediate neighbourhood and in the world in general. How serious are we about our transatlantic partnership with the United States?

A Europe that protects has to maintain a strong relationship with our global partners. In addition to the European defence cooperation, it is vital that we preserve transatlantic unity. Europe cannot deal with global security risks alone.

For the European Union, this means going beyond its current role as a regulatory superpower and starting to support the development and deployment of more traditional instruments of foreign and security policy. Therefore, increased defence cooperation among the EU Member States is very welcome. This will lead to increased defence spending and to a larger number of commonly usable capabilities. At the same time, NATO will remain the bedrock of collective defence in Europe. Our aim should be a mutually reinforcing relationship between the EU and NATO.

The final point I would like to make is that we need to strengthen the European feeling and fight populism. We are working hard in the EU to make our citizens feel well. However, in a recent youth forum in Estonia, students said that even their teachers were not able to explain the European Union. Upcoming European Parliament elections give us politicians a perfect opportunity to explain our decisions. The European Union has brought so many opportunities that people nowadays seem to take for granted. We have to speak about the benefits of the Single Market and single currency to our businesses, of free movement to our people, and of ERASMUS to our students.

I very much appreciate the structured dialogues on the future of Europe, initiated by the French President, Emmanuel Macron; the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; and the President of this great House, Antonio Tajani. Working for a better Europe that benefits citizens is daily work. This also includes taking responsibility for the decisions and compromises made in the EU, and showing very clearly that we own these decisions.

The action taken after the Bratislava and Rome Summits already seems to have had positive results and to enjoy the support of the people. More than two—thirds of EU citizens feel that EU membership has been beneficial to their country – the best results since 1983.

To summarise, external pressure and crises have always pushed the EU forward and motivated Member States and institutions to cooperate. Our common response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, to the Bataclan terrorist attack, or, if we will, to the eurozone crisis, is an example of solidarity and an example of common values.

The European Union as a community of values – and, of course, shared interests – has to have the means to stand up for the respect of individual freedoms and fundamental rights, for a multilateral and rules-based order and to tackle the challenges to our security, peace and wellbeing. I believe that our citizens understand this, as we engage in the negotiations over the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

The fundamentals of the European Union are constantly being disputed by the people, by the Member States, and by third states. Our Union is therefore politically fragile. This means that we need a self-confident, reassuring Union that protects its citizens and its members.

We also need citizens and Member States that are passionate about the Union and everything it stands for as a family of peoples and states. There must be more of us. I really hope that 10 years from now, I can listen to a colleague from any of the current candidate countries in the same capacity as I am standing here today.

I would now like to conclude in my mother tongue, Estonian.

Kallid parlamendiliikmed! Ma tahan teid tänada selle eest, et Euroopa olevik ja Euroopa tulevik ei jäta teid kedagi ükskõikseks. Alles täna siin, seistes teie ees, mõistan ma täielikult, milline privileeg ning vastutus oli Eestil ja minul eelmisel aastal, kui meil oli au ja võimalus juhtida Euroopa Liidu Nõukogu tööd.

Eesti kirjanik Anton Hansen Tammsaare on öelnud, et tööd tehes kasvab armastus. Nii see on. Euroopa oli, Euroopa on ja Euroopa jääb minu südamesse.


  Presidente. – Grazie Signor Primo ministro. Prima di dare la parola alla Commissione, vi chiedo se tutti coloro che sono interessati a registrarsi per il catch-the-eye lo hanno fatto. Siete ancora in tempo, stiamo per chiudere ora il sistema. Se qualcuno si vuole registrare lo può ancora fare. Bisogna registrarsi con la carta di voto. Bene allora possiamo chiudere il sistema elettronico.

Do ora la parola alla Commissione europea, ad Andrus Ansip.


  Andrus Ansip, Euroopa Komisjoni asepresident. – Austatud president Antonio Tajani, austatud peaminister Jüri Ratas, austatud Euroopa Parlamendi liikmed, head külalised, daamid ja härrad! Ma kõnelen täna Euroopa Komisjoni presidendi Jean-Claude Junckeri nimel. Ma loodan, et te mõistate – kui ma ei kõneleks president Junckeri nimel, siis ma oleksin kiitusega Eesti aadressil märksa mõõdukam. Aga ma kõnelen president Jean-Claude Junckeri nimel.

Mr President, speaking on behalf of President Juncker, let me start by thanking the Prime Minister for taking part in this debate and for his vision on the future of our Union.

As you know, this is a special year for Estonia. In February, we marked 100 years since independence. Today, Estonia is a modern country, flourishing at the heart of Europe. It may be one of the smaller Member States, but it is an example for others to follow. Estonia always fights to take its rightful place at the heart of our European Union, whether Schengen, the euro or on defence. It always seeks compromise and works for a unity. We saw this repeatedly during the first—ever Estonian EU Presidency last year. All of this shows that Estonia will continue to be a leader in the European Union in the future.

Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to making our people safe. Defence and security are not abstract terms for Estonians. They are daily and visible preoccupations. This is why we have invested so much in the EU’s partnership with NATO, which remains the cornerstone of our defence.

Estonia knows first—hand the true value of this partnership. As I speak, Estonian troops are in Afghanistan, Mali, Kosovo, Lebanon and other countries, while the presence of NATO forces in Estonia continues to give us peace of my mind.

Estonia is also leading the way through its participation in permanent structured cooperation. Its planned project with Finland, Latvia and others to develop unmanned land systems is a perfect example of how we can achieve more by working together and how we can bring digital solutions to the battlefield to save lives. We need to back this up with the resources to match.

As part of our proposals for a new long—term European budget, we have designated EUR 13 billion for the European Defence Fund. I know we can rely on Estonia’s full support for these proposals.

All of our proposals for the Multiannual Financial Framework focus on areas where we can achieve more together to build a stronger Europe. We have seen the potential of targeted investments. Rail Baltica is a good example. This project connects Europeans and creates new opportunities for people and businesses from Helsinki to Tallinn, through Riga and Vilnius, and eventually to Warsaw. This is the largest infrastructure project in the Baltics – EUR 5 billion invested in the region.

These projects cannot happen overnight or within one financial period. In that spirit, we have proposed to increase the funding for the Connecting Europe facility by 24%, to focus on transport, digital and energy infrastructure. This will allow major projects to become a reality, such as the synchronisation of the Baltic countries’ electricity systems and the Baltic connector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia.

The same applies to digital, which is in the DNA of Estonia. It now needs to become part of Europe’s too, in digital infrastructure, e-government and digital skills. This is what the EU leaders endorsed at the Tallinn Digital Summit. This is why we are fully focused on building a true digital single market.

I rely on the support of this House, as well as the Council, to agree on the remaining proposals as quickly as possible. We need them urgently to build Europe’s digital future.

The European Commission has proposed a new digital Europe programme worth EUR 9 billion to support Europe’s digital transformation. This will be especially important when it comes to implementing the Tallinn Declaration on e—government.

All of this shows the importance of agreeing on the new long—term budget as quickly as possible. As President Juncker said in this very room only a few weeks ago, there would be no better message, no greater symbol to show Europeans that their Union will invest in the future and take its destiny into its own hands.

Honourable Members, Prime Minister, only a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens, make the most of the new digital world and create new opportunities for its people and businesses alike. But to do so, we will have to work together and work for a compromise. We will probably have to do less, be more focussed on the things that matter, and do things more efficiently. As ever, Estonia is showing the way. The motto for its Presidency ‘unity through balance’ shows us the way forward for our European Union. It is time to take it.



  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, I would like to welcome Prime Minister Ratas to the debate on the future of Europe in this House.

Prime Minister, it is good to have you here because we can be inspired by the history of Estonia and by the strength of its people. In the PPE Group, we are lucky to have one of your compatriots within our family. He is only one but he counts for ten. I want to thank our friend Tunne Kelam, who is with us. He fought the Soviet occupation at first hand and was not afraid to stand up against injustice despite the great risks. Together, he and all the people of Estonia achieved a lot: a Europe that fights back for what is right, a Europe that is strongly together against all the odds and a Europe that sticks to its values. Europe can learn a lot from the Estonians’ spirit.

Estonia is a small, innovative and courageous country. If there is no Europe which cares about the small Member States, there is no Europe at all. You said it, Prime Minister: diversity is what Europe is all about.

Estonia was reborn from the ashes. It was one of several victims of nationalism and brutalism. The Hitler—Stalin Pact meant oppression for more than 50 years. For Estonia, a united Europe means, first of all, freedom and security. Today, with Vladimir Putin on one side, Estonia needs a strong Europe; and with Donald Trump on the other side, Estonia also needs a self-confident Europe, which cares about security. In the same way that Europe is sticking to NATO, we also have to strengthen our defence union. You mentioned this in your speech, Prime Minister. In the future it could probably be a fascinating idea to guarantee the future security of the Baltic states with European troops present there.

Sadly, Estonia was also one of the first countries to know a brand new type of warfare. Back in 2007 it withstood one of the first cyberattacks. Today Estonia is a leading nation in cybersecurity at European level and also globally. Its experience could also be a starting point from which to create in the future a cyber-rearguard, defending the whole European Union in response to these modern challenges.

Today I want to focus on the question of the digital revolution. The new technologies are improving dramatically and we can all see this. Estonia has done a great job: 99% of all public services are already e—services; and, when you bear in mind that it is a country with six times more start-ups per citizen than the EU average, we can only congratulate Estonia on what it has done in this regard.


Estonia’s ambitions are a role model for Europe. Innovation is key and it is part of the European DNA. We now need to give a proper answer as to what our share is in this digitalisation, because it’s obvious that the USA is more of a frontrunner than we are, as Europeans, in the digital revolution. That is why we need to consider and discuss how we can now organise and use the opportunity of the next wave in the digital transformation which is ahead of us.

Let me underline one important point for us. We don’t think that creating legislation on copyright or data protection means creating a burden for the innovative sector. For us it’s clear that this is about creating a level playing field for a modern innovation policy.

A second important point is that we have to take people’s concerns people seriously. When a waiter feels that an iPad is taking over his job or a truck driver fears the self-driving vehicles which will be on our streets in the future, then we have to give an answer in terms of a digital social market economy. How we organise this is one of the big challenges ahead of us.

The third thing I want to underline is the gap between advanced regions and those which are still catching up. Improving the digital infrastructure in the European Union is a key issue for keeping Europe together. That’s why I think we must invest a lot in the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework and especially in the idea of broadband for everyone. Because technology does not shape the people – it is the people who shape technology – our European way of life has all the ingredients for us to succeed: firm values, a fair social market economy, creative capacities, lively regions and stable democracies.

That is why we need to start now to build up this digital revolution with the European spirit. The future of Europe will not be written only through interinstitutional reforms. Investing in innovation and digital infrastructure to ultimately improve European citizens’ quality of life is what matters most. The PPE Group is ready to stand with all those who want to go into the future.



  Udo Bullmann, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, it is a pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister on behalf of the Social Democrats here in the House, together with my good friend Ivari Padar in the first row here. Let me say, Prime Minister, that it was a pleasure to listen to you. You gave us the impression that Estonia seems to be a great place to live. We can also congratulate you on the Presidency and the great results which you delivered for Europe.

Together with your coalition partners, especially with our sister party, the Social Democrats, you achieved a lot in your country. You have already made Estonia a fairer society and a better place for its citizens, and we would like to congratulate you on that. We share the same idea that Europe and our countries have to be locations for the best of the many and not only for the few. We are dreaming and we are working for a Europe that is sustainable: sustainable in its economy, in its environment and its social structures, where everybody – every woman and every man – regardless of their income can count on the support of their public institutions and where everybody can breathe fresh and clean air. You showed in a small country what can be done for instance in public transport. Public transport is free everywhere there, and I am dreaming of that in my home country and everywhere in the European Union.

Let us build on your experience and let us try to make that the common experience. You invested in children, you invested in teachers; this is the leading issue for what we have to follow in the European Union, and if you look at how much you spent on the well—being of families, many other countries could copy that.

Lassen Sie mich heute, an dem Tag, an dem wir in Deutschland den Tag der deutschen Einheit begehen, etwas Nachdenkliches sagen. Wir in Deutschland feiern den Fall der Mauer, wir in Europa feiern den Fall des Eisernen Vorhangs. Wir haben im Kopf und im Herzen, mit wieviel Freude die Menschen diese Ereignisse begleitet haben und welche Hoffnung auf Freiheit und auf Demokratie damit verbunden waren.

Wir müssen uns heute aber Sorgen machen. Wir müssen uns Sorgen machen über neue Mauern, über neue Grenzzäune in der Realität, im Herzen und im Kopf. Grenzen zwischen denen, die denken, dass sie alles erreichen können, und denen, die sich vergessen fühlen und glauben, dass sie nicht mitgenommen werden, die keine Chance haben; Grenzen zwischen denen, die sich wirklich anständig jeden Tag Mühe geben, zum Gemeinwohl beizutragen, und denen, die das schamlos ausnutzen; Grenzen zwischen denen, die völkisch hetzen und nationalistisch intrigieren, und denen, die als Flüchtlinge von Krieg und als Flüchtlinge von Gewalt davon Opfer werden.

Lassen Sie mich an einen großen Franzosen erinnern, an François Mitterrand, der 1995 in diesem Parlament gesagt hat, Nationalismus wird zu Krieg, wenn wir dem nicht entgegensteuern. Das ist die Botschaft für Europa, der wir folgen müssen. Und das ist der Auftrag auch für unsere heutige Diskussion. Ich habe Hoffnung. Das ist Ihre Erfahrung, das ist das, was Sie mitbringen, wenn sie aus dem Herzen Ihres Volkes sprechen. Ich habe die Hoffnung, dass Sie uns helfen werden, ein Europa ohne Mauern zu verteidigen, ein Europa ohne neue Grenzzäune, ein Europa des sozialen Zusammenhalts. Nur wenn unsere Gesellschaften sozial zusammenhalten, wird es die Freiheiten geben, die wir uns wünschen, und ein Europa, das Rechtsradikalismus, das Faschismus, das neue Grenzen zurückweist und die Demokratie schützt, auch in Ihren nächsten Wahlen, auch in der nächsten Europawahl.

Ich wünsche Ihnen Glück und Erfolg, und ich hoffe, dass dieses Land so blühen kann wie es angefangen hat zu blühen.


  Peter Lundgren, för ECR-gruppen. – Herr talman! Välkommen hit, premiärminister Ratas. Det är trevligt att ni tar er tid att besöka oss.

Vi har hört många positiva röster om EU-medlemskapet. I det här huset tror ju vi på mångfald. Därför kommer jag att leverera en delvis annorlunda bild av medlemskapet. Jag är svensk och kommer från Sverige. År 1994 hade vi vår folkomröstning om medlemskapet då vi egentligen blev översköljda av ja-sidans kampanj eftersom de hade de ekonomiska musklerna att bedriva en riktig kampanj. Nej-sidan var mer en ideell förening. Vi blev översköljda av allting som skulle vara jättebra med EU. Det fanns inte en röst som pratade om det som skulle vara baksidan av ett medlemskap.

Vi blev medlemmar, och 1995 gick vi med i EU. Jag röstade faktiskt själv ja den gången. Jag såg klara fördelar med att kunna handla med hela Europa. Vad jag aldrig såg och inte kunde förutse var väl den utveckling som detta hus i sig självt skulle ta, där man mer och mer äter upp det nationella självbestämmandet. Vi har bekymmer i dag. Vi har en transportnäring som hotas av fuskande företag som opererar i skydd av EU:s regler. Vi kan inte själva kontrollera detta i Sverige eftersom EU:s regler per automatik överstiger våra egna regler. Just för stunden har vid en gränskontroll. Annars har vi obefintliga gränskontroller. Vi har inte längre kontroll över vilka människor som finns i vårt land. Vi har i mångt och mycket en okontrollerad immigration.

Tack gode gud att vi aldrig gick med i europrojektet! Alla experter förklarade att om inte Sverige gick med i eurosamarbetet så väntade en katastrof. Jag tror att vi, svenska folket, är glada i dag att vi aldrig lyssnade på experterna, eftersom det ju har varit bra för Sverige i mångt och mycket att stå utanför.

För Estland har medlemskapet fått en helt annan effekt. För er har det varit väldigt positivt. Estland är ett väldigt vackert land som jag har besökt flera gånger, och som i mångt och mycket också påminner om Sverige. Jag är glad för att ni har så många positiva erfarenheter av medlemskapet.

Som situationen är i dag för mitt land, Sverige, i detta samarbete skulle jag dock vilja omförhandla vårt avtal. Jag skulle vilja omförhandla det precis som jag och alla andra svenskar och européer omförhandlar sina avtal t.ex. med elleverantören, med banken, där man har sina huslån, eller med alla de institutioner eller föreningar som man har gått med i men inte längre är fullt nöjd med medlemskapet. Det är emellertid väldigt svårt att få till stånd en sådan omförhandling. Sverige är ett litet land – vi har bara 20 ledamöter här i huset och 14 röster av 340 i ministerrådet. Jag skulle dock önska att man skulle kunna få till stånd en sådan omförhandling för jag gillar inte tanken på att alla medlemsländer ska stöpas i exakt samma form inom Europa. Jag vill ha ett samarbete med våra vänner och grannar, och jag vill att det ska vara under en bibehållen nationell suveränitet.


  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I would ask the Prime Minister just to look at the approval. Jüri, everybody praises you and finds Estonia fantastic, a magnificent country. I always say yes, that’s normal, it’s because the Liberals are always in power – naturally – in Estonia! You, with the Centre Party, you are even leading the opposition with the Reform Party. So I think the fact that everything is so good in Estonia has something to do with the strong position of our two liberal parties. But I don’t have to say that as you are better aware of it than me.

I want to come to another point – and it is the last time that I will come back to this – which is what Mr Hunt said about the comparison between the European Union and the Soviet Union. You have to know that the two first reactions didn’t come from us. The two first reactions game from the Lithuanian Commissioner, and came from the Latvian Ambassador, by the way, in the UK. I think that is not by accident. They explained how the Soviets killed, deported, exiled, imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Baltic citizens, especially also Estonian citizens. They both explained how, in contrast, the European Union brought their countries prosperity, equality, growth, respect. I think that both of them gave Mr Jeremy Hunt a stark lesson in history in 200 characters, so to speak.

That is exactly, also, what you said in your intervention, Jüri, here in Parliament: the Baltic States, more than anyone else, I should say, in the European Union, needs a united Europe, a strong Europe, more united than today and stronger than today. A Europe that is also capable – let’s be very clear about this – to stand up against Vladimir Putin, because if you look a little bit at the last decade in the European Union, we have seen a decade of Russian aggression. The list is long – the partial occupation of Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine, the shooting down of MH 17, the cyberattacks against our institutions, against the German Bundestag even, the money laundering through our banks, the chemical attacks in Salisbury. It’s a long list in one decade. So what is next? Next may be to corrupt our ballot boxes in the elections in 2019.

That is the most important point that you have made, Jüri, in your intervention, for the moment, our only response is in fact sanctions, and then there are the counter measures by Putin, and everything goes on and on and on. I think that will be not enough in the future and certainly not enough also to defend the sovereignty of all our European countries.

I think that we need something more powerful, which is credibility in foreign policy and credibility in our defence policy, in our defence capabilities. A little bit in the words of Theodore Roosevelt who said ‘speak softly but carry a big stick’. That was his opinion. We in Europe for the moment are doing exactly the opposite. We preach loudly on human rights, on democracy, but we carry no stick at all, in Europe, not even a small twig I should say.

So, my appeal to you – and in your intervention you have mentioned this – is that the first thing we do when we talk about the future of Europe, is to stop and abandon naivety and our self—imposed weakness and to show you have to build up a position of power. That means a lot of things. First of all to abolish the unanimity rule in the Council. Certainly in the field of foreign policy. You cannot have a foreign policy if you continue with the unanimity rule. Defence capabilities. Let’s build a European defence community, with intelligence services that are capable and have the instruments and giving also, for example, to Europol a real mandate and not what it is today – a post box between Member States, but to make it a real federal police force that can conduct investigations on the whole European territory.

That’s my conclusion. Peace through strength, you know this word. Peace through strength – that is how the West brought down the Soviet Union in 1991. Well peace through strength is what our Union needs again today. Thank you, Jüri, because in your interventions and proposals you have led the way.


  Philippe Lamberts, fraktsiooni Verts/ALE nimel. – Dear Prime Minister Ratas, tere tulemast tagasi Euroopa Parlamenti!

Mr President, I would say to the Prime Minister that it is always a pleasure for us to engage in dialogue with representatives of the Baltic States. Estonia was the last of the three to complete its first Presidency of the Council.

Prime Minister, your work, like that of your predecessors, demonstrated not only your strong commitment to our common goals, but also that leadership qualities do not depend on the size of the Member State. Nowadays, it has become too commonplace to hear a parallel being drawn between the European Union and the defunct Soviet Union. Even though I was lucky enough not to have been born under Soviet rule, these comments are really outrageous to me. But not nearly as much though, as to those who had to endure occupation by the Red Army. I am thankful to all those that Guy mentioned in Central and Eastern Europe who are fiercely standing up against this malignant propaganda. No European Member State is immune against the rise of the logic of ‘us against them’ and the drift away from pluralist democracy and the rule of law. Estonia is no exception, but we are with you in fighting against a polarisation of society and in defending the principles of equality and social inclusion.

Before being economic and monetary, our Union is one of values and giving up on them means giving up on the European dream. In that respect, the Council cannot ignore the European Parliament’s call to launch Article 7 proceedings not against Hungary, but against measures taken by the current Hungarian Government. Beyond our shared fundamental values, the very idea of the European Union is to build the world’s first transnational democracy, one in which we resolve all differences and find common ground through negotiation and compromise, rather than through conflict. And yes, Prime Minister, we have differences with you. We are disappointed that Estonia is still amongst the OECD’s most carbon—intensive economies as it still produces the vast majority of its energy from shale oil, with disastrous results in terms of emissions and toxic waste. At the same time, a significant share of your country’s forest resources have already been irresponsibly and unsustainably depleted, most often to get some quick cash. Sadly, we see similar developments elsewhere in Europe, like in Białowieża in Poland and Hambach in Germany.

You also like to highlight the potential of the digital revolution, or transformation as you call it, for future welfare, and I will agree with you that we should not shy away from innovation. However, we should keep in mind the significant risks this revolution carries in terms of civil liberties or, again, ecological impact. Indeed, far from being dematerialised, the digital universe is hungry for scarce resources whose extraction proves very damaging for the environment.

In our view, it is absolutely vital for the European Union to become a world leader in the ecologically and socially just transition of our economies. Of course, the fight against climate change demands it, but our jobs, our balance of payment, our strategic independence and our competitiveness depend on it. Giving up on this objective also means giving up on the European dream.


  Νεοκλής Συλικιώτης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, θα ήθελα και εγώ να σας καλωσορίσω εκ μέρους της Ομάδας της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενωτικής Αριστεράς/Αριστεράς των Πρασίνων των Βορείων Χωρών. Συζητάμε και πάλι για το μέλλον της Ευρώπης, αλλά δυστυχώς η εκτίμηση παραμένει η ίδια. Η κατάσταση στην Ένωση οξύνεται συνεχώς και καθημερινά βαθαίνει η οικονομική, πολιτική και θεσμική κρίση. Αυξάνεται δραματικά και το δημοκρατικό έλλειμμα της Ένωσης και δεν χρειάζεται να ωραιοποιείτε αυτή την κατάσταση.

Οι νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές λιτότητας που εφαρμόστηκαν, αν και απέτυχαν, συνεχίζουν να προωθούνται και να θεσμοθετούνται, με αποτέλεσμα οι λαοί να οδηγούνται στην ανεργία και στη φτωχοποίηση. Αυτή είναι η πραγματικότητα σήμερα και για την Εσθονία που, παρά τις επιτυχίες στην ψηφιακή οικονομία, σημειώνει ανησυχητικά ποσοστά υψηλής ανεργίας και φτώχειας.

Το κοινωνικό κράτος διαλύεται, οι εργασιακές σχέσεις απορρυθμίζονται και οι οικονομικές, κοινωνικές και περιφερειακές ανισότητες στην Ένωση διευρύνονται συνεχώς. Κυριαρχεί πλέον η ασυδοσία της αγοράς και, προκειμένου να εξυπηρετηθούν τα συμφέροντα των πολυεθνικών και των μονοπωλίων, στον βωμό του κέρδους καταστρέφεται ανεπανόρθωτα το περιβάλλον και εντείνονται οι κλιματικές αλλαγές.

Έπειτα, η προσφυγική κρίση οξύνεται όλο και περισσότερο, όσο η Ένωση αρνείται να υιοθετήσει μια στρατηγική στηριγμένη στην αλληλεγγύη και τον ανθρωπισμό. Η πρόσφατη απόφαση των ηγετών στο Σάλτσμπουργκ δυστυχώς προμηνύει πως θα συνεχίσουν τα ίδια μέτρα καταστολής, οι αυξημένοι έλεγχοι στα εξωτερικά αλλά δυστυχώς και στα εσωτερικά σύνορα και η ενίσχυση της λογικής της Ευρώπης-φρούριο.

Αυτές οι νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές είναι που λειαίνουν το έδαφος για την άνοδο της ακροδεξιάς και την υιοθέτηση ρατσιστικής και ξενοφοβικής ρητορικής και πολιτικής από αρκετές κυβερνήσεις κρατών μελών. Εάν η Ένωση συνεχίσει να προωθεί τις ίδιες πολιτικές, οι ακροδεξιές δυνάμεις θα ενδυναμωθούν ακόμη περισσότερο και ελλοχεύουν πολύ μεγάλοι κίνδυνοι για τους λαούς της Ευρώπης. Η άνοδος της ακροδεξιάς επιχειρεί ένα πισωγύρισμα της Ένωσης στον σκοταδισμό και απειλεί βασικές ελευθερίες, δικαιώματα και κατακτήσεις των λαών και λυπούμαι να πω ότι είναι σχήμα οξύμωρο σήμερα με το κλίμα ανόδου του φασισμού και της ακροδεξιάς να μιλούμε για τη Σοβιετική Ένωση. Οι βίαιες επιθέσεις που σημειώθηκαν ακόμα και ενάντια σε ευρωβουλευτές στο Μπάρι της Ιταλίας, στο Κέμνιτς της Γερμανίας, αλλά και σε άλλα κράτη αποδεικνύουν πως η ακροδεξιά αποθρασύνεται και επιβάλλεται η άμεση συνεργασία και συμμαχία των προοδευτικών δυνάμεων για την αναχαίτισή της. Είναι αδήριτη ανάγκη να συσπειρωθούν ευρύτερες δημοκρατικές και προοδευτικές δυνάμεις και όλοι μαζί να αντιπαλέψουμε την ακροδεξιά, τον φασισμό, τον ρατσισμό και την ξενοφοβία.

Η κατάσταση δε γίνεται ακόμα πιο επικίνδυνη με τη νέα στροφή της Ένωσης προς τη στρατιωτικοποίηση, την επένδυση στην άμυνα με το νέο ευρωπαϊκό ταμείο και την ενίσχυση της στρατιωτικής βιομηχανίας, σε συντονισμό με την επιθετικότητα του ΝΑΤΟ. Η στροφή αυτή της Ένωσης στους πολέμους θα είναι καταστροφή για το μέλλον της Ένωσης.

Αγαπητέ κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, αγαπητοί συνάδελφοι, ο κίνδυνος για την Ευρώπη δεν είναι οι πρόσφυγες και οι μετανάστες· είναι οι πόλεμοι και οι ιμπεριαλιστικές επεμβάσεις τις οποίες στηρίζουν έμπρακτα η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και τα κράτη μέλη της· είναι οι αυξανόμενες οικονομικές και κοινωνικές ανισότητες· είναι ο ρατσισμός και η ξενοφοβία. Για να υπάρξει ελπίδα για το μέλλον των λαών της Ένωσης, πρέπει να ανατραπούν αυτές οι νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές λιτότητας. Χρειάζεται ακόμα, πάνω απ’ όλα, μια δίκαιη αναδιανομή του πλούτου, χρειάζεται στρατηγική ανάπτυξης, χρειάζονται δημόσιες επενδύσεις που θα δυναμώνουν το κοινωνικό κράτος. Ναι, χρειάζεται αναβάθμιση της ψηφιακής οικονομίας, αλλά παράλληλα να δημιουργηθούν αξιοπρεπείς, μόνιμες, ποιοτικές θέσεις εργασίας. Έτσι θα δημιουργήσουμε πραγματικά μια Ευρώπη των λαών, της κοινωνικής δικαιοσύνης και της ειρήνης.


  Rolandas Paksas, EFDD frakcijos vardu. – Estija dažnai apdovanojama įvairiais epitetais, kurie dažniausiai išreiškia šalies veržlumą. Vienas iš jų anksčiau dažnai kartotas – Baltijos tigras. Tigro išminties, sumanumo ir ryžto kaip niekad šiandien reikia visai Europos Sąjungai. Gebėjimo laviruoti tarp bendrų Europos Sąjungos ir atskirų nacionalinių valstybių interesų, sumanumo tariantis su didžiausiomis pasaulio valstybėmis, ryžto priimant valstybių, kurių politikai ir piliečiai pasisako už suverenumą, tautų Europą, nacionalines o ne internacionalinės kultūros pariteto pozicija, kaip tiesioginės demokratijos išraiška. Juolab kad daugelis iš šių Rytų Europos ir Vyšegrado šalių išgyveno sovietinio federalizmo patirtį ir puikiai supranta kuo gali tapti globalistų siekis federalizuoti Europą. Dialogas, o ne konfrontacija. Tautų valstybių sąjunga, o ne federalizacija. Ekonomikos augimas, socialinės atskirties mažinimas, o ne išlaidų karo pramonei didinimas. Santarvė, susitarimo paieškos, bet ne supriešinimas ar susipriešinimas. Tai dalykai, kurie turi tapti kertiniais naujos Europos Sąjungos pamato akmenimis. Nejaugi, ministre pirmininke, manot, kad turėtų būti kitaip? Tada Bendrijos šalyse surenkime referendumus dėl Europos Sąjungos ateities krypties. Ar žmonės nori stiprinti valstybių savarankiškumą ir nepriklausomybę? Ar nori naujos Europos federacijos be savarankiškų valstybių? Esu įsitikinęs, kad referendumo rezultatas būtų labai nepatogus šiandieninės Europos Sąjungos politikos architektams, kurie jos ateitį mato kaip unifikuotą Europos valstybių federaciją. Taip pat aš manau, kad naujos Europos Sąjungos ateities mes sulauksime gerokai greičiau, negu paskutinio Europos Sąjungos valstybės prezidento ar premjero pasisakymų šia tema. Ta ateitis prasidės po Didžiosios Britanijos pasitraukimo kitų metų kovą. Ir ne taip jau labai svarbu, ar sutars pusės dėl sąlygų, kuriomis išsiskiria, ar ne. Virsmas yra prasidėjęs. Mes dar turime laiko padaryti taip, kad tai netaptų visos Europos Sąjungos griūtimi, eidami konstruktyvaus dialogo, o ne primityvių įžeidinėjimų ar asmeniškumų keliu.


  Marcel de Graaff, namens de ENF-Fractie. – Voorzitter, ik heet de minister-president van Estland, de heer Ratas, van harte welkom in dit Parlement om te debatteren over de toekomst van Europa. Estland kent een historie van vrijwel uitsluitend overheersing, eerst door Duitsland, vervolgens door Zweden en daarna door Rusland. Na een korte periode van onafhankelijkheid werd Estland vervolgens ingelijfd bij de Sovjet-Unie. Estland weet wat het is om overheerst te worden. Na het einde van de Sovjet-Unie heeft het uit angst voor de Russische buurman aansluiting gezocht bij de NAVO en de EU.

In 2004 leek de EU nog een vriendelijk, vriendschappelijk verbond. Maar inmiddels moeten bij de bevolking van Estland toch de schellen van de ogen zijn gevallen? De EU introduceerde de afgelopen jaren voorstellen voor een EU-leger, een EU-politiemacht en een Europese openbare aanklager, naast voorstellen voor internetcensuur en voor inperking van de vrijheid van meningsuiting. We horen de heer Verhofstadt, die het pand inmiddels verlaten heeft, zojuist pleiten voor een EU-KGB. Steeds meer kleinere lidstaten worden vervolgd vanwege hun EU-kritische beleid. Landen die hun bevolking willen beschermen tegen de verwoestende effecten van het opengrenzenbeleid.

Meneer Ratas, herkent u niet de contouren van een nieuwe Sovjet-Unie? Waar denkt u dat een EU-leger werkelijk voor nodig is? Niet voor het beschermen van de buitengrenzen, want daar hebben we de NAVO voor. De liberalen in dit Parlement zijn de grote voorvechters van een EU-leger en het waren de liberalen die de gewapende pro-EU-staatsgreep in de Oekraïne stonden toe te juichen. Straks zijn het de liberalen die de tanks opnieuw Hongarije laten binnenrijden.

U dacht dat alle landen in de EU vetorecht hadden? Wat een vergissing. Het is de oorspronkelijk Oost-Duitse communiste Angela Merkel die dicteert, en de EU volgt. Estland heeft in 2004 zijn soevereiniteit ingeleverd door te tekenen bij het kruisje. En u dacht dat de dreiging uit het oosten kwam? Nee, de dreiging komt uit het westen. De agressieve Ost-politiek van de EU is een terugkeer naar een oude Duitse doelstelling. U zou dat toch moeten herkennen? Daarom raad ik de heer Ratas aan aansluiting te zoeken bij de Visegrád 4, bij het Hongarije van Viktor Orbán, dat net als Estland diep gebukt is gegaan onder communistische overheersing, bij het Italië van Matteo Salvini en het Oostenrijk van Heinz-Christian Strache, want daar zijn de schellen inmiddels van de ogen gevallen.

U denkt wellicht nog dat een liberale democratie staat voor een democratie waarin de vrijheden gelden die ooit zo treffend zijn verwoord in de Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen. Nee, meneer Ratas, liberaal is hier slechts een ander woord voor communistisch. Wanneer in dit Parlement gesproken wordt over liberale democratie, dan bedoelt men de socialistische heilstaat, dan bedoelt men een nieuw Sovjet-imperium. En dat wil ik u in dit debat meegeven, minister-president Ratas, opdat u Estland kunt leiden op de weg naar echte vrijheid en echte soevereiniteit.


  Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski (NI). – Panie Przewodniczący! Ja chcę przede wszystkim wyrazić uznanie dla narodu estońskiego, który w sposób szczególny – tak jak wiele narodów ujarzmionych przez Związek Radziecki – objawił pragnienie wolności, wolę życia, wolę niezależności. Narodu szczególnie inteligentnego i mądrego. Mogę przyłączyć się do tych pochwał w stosunku do przemówienia pana premiera, przede wszystkim dlatego iż to przemówienie wyraża motywy istotne dla przyszłości Europy.

Uważam, że pan premier zaprezentował proeuropejski pragmatyzm. Proeuropejski pragmatyzm, a nie proeuropejski centralizm, bo proeuropejski pragmatyzm jest chyba najbardziej zasadną odpowiedzią na współczesne wyzwania stojące przed naszymi krajami i Unią Europejską jako całością. To jest stawka na bezpieczeństwo, na bezpieczeństwo Europejczyków, to jest stawka na wzmocnioną współpracę w zakresie polityki obronnej, ale jednocześnie kooperację z Paktem Północnoatlantyckim. Mogę podpisać się bardzo jednoznacznie pod tymi poglądami.

Jednocześnie pan premier wyraził sceptycyzm wobec tego, co prezentuje często na tej sali pan przewodniczący Verhofstadt, sceptycyzm wobec centralizmu unijnego, wobec takich reform, które postawią kraje mniejsze w gorszej pozycji. Bazą solidarności europejskiej jest partnerstwo, poszanowanie wszystkich, a więc i mniejszych krajów Unii Europejskiej. Absolutnie podzielam obawy przed formalnymi reformami, przed nową formą rewizji traktatów, która by mogła skutkować tym niebezpieczeństwem: niebezpieczeństwem pomniejszenia europejskiego partnerstwa, europejskiej solidarności, pomniejszenia pozycji krajów mniejszych.

I wreszcie jeszcze jeden bardzo istotny element: to stawka na konkurencyjny rynek, na otwarty konkurencyjny rynek, na liberalizację usług. I trzeba powiedzieć, że nie tylko populizm, o którym pan premier mówił, jest siłą ograniczającą konkurencję gospodarczą w Europie. Protekcjonizm jest czymś znacznie szerszym, on jest obecny także w politykach unijnych partii głównego nurtu. Bardzo się cieszę, że pan premier postawił na ten motyw, na konkurencyjny rynek, który da siłę gospodarce europejskiej.


  Presidente. – Ora il Primo ministro Ratas può rispondere alle prime domande, poi ci sarà il catch-the-eye e poi le risposte alle domande che verranno dal catch-the-eye sempre da parte del Primo ministro Ratas.


  Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia. – Mr President, Vice-President of the Commission and leaders of the political groups. First of all, I would like to thank you for your kind comments on Estonia and also on our Members of the European Parliament. It is important that we have diverse views, even if I cannot agree with some of them. Just as diversity of views is important, so is our ability to provide answers and solutions and, most importantly, to make compromises.

I would like to react to some of your comments and your views. First of all, Commission Vice-President Ansip, thank you for the kind references to our country – and our best wishes to you and also to Commission President Juncker! It is true that it is very important to have good connections with the centre of Europe. Connectivity is one of our priorities, and, if I am talking on a somewhat broader scale, I include here the Baltic countries and the Nordic ones. It is true that one of our targets will be the synchronisation of our energy market with the centre of Europe and, of course, digitalisation, which was a cornerstone during our Presidency, is still one of our most important themes in relation to unity and good cooperation between the Member States.

Our slogan during our Presidency was ‘Unity through Balance’, and I think it is so important today to achieve better cooperation, for example in the digital sphere. In terms of cooperation across borders, and in terms of concrete benefits for our citizens and for our businesses in doing business with different Member States, we must go forward and find a solution.

One very concrete wish is for free movement of data. I agree with those leaders who have mentioned artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, and, yes, it is true that in Estonia we have a lot of different e-services, more than 2 500. But our goal must also be to be very good and very active in talking to the private sector: this means the fourth industrial revolution.

During our Presidency we were really happy that today we have much closer cooperation in terms of defence and security, with Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), for example. In relation to the digital world, or digital society, the first step must always be cybersecurity. It is true that more than ten years ago we had some very serious cyberattacks but now we have more skills and much better cooperation.

Some words about what Mr Bullmann said: I agree 100% about sustainable development. It is so important here to strike the balance between the environment, the economy and the social sphere. Thank you too, Mr Verhofstadt, for your kind words about Estonia and the Baltic states. I agree with you that this united Europe is, for us, 100% important.

Now, some more about our environment. Estonia has more than half of its territory covered by forest and we take sustainable forest management very seriously. Estonia is meeting all the European climate goals: that was a priority during the Presidency, and my Government has a 50% renewable energy target. I also would like to say that Estonia is a nature-loving society. We care deeply about the environment today and about what we leave for our children. We are on track with climate policy and energy efficiency goals and Estonia has already reached the renewable energy goals for 2030.

As regards the Soviet Union and the EU, I think they are at 180 degrees in terms of difference: having lived under the brutal Soviet regime, I strongly reject any comparison with today’s or, for that matter, tomorrow’s European Union.

Once more, I agree with Mr Weber on the importance of a level playing field and of creating the biggest digital market. It is also important that digital Europe works for the many and not the few – well said, Mr Bullmann!

As a member of the Liberal family, I can only agree again with Mr Verhofstadt and I can only say thank you to Sweden and the Swedish people for supporting Estonia and our fellow Estonians, for example during the 1940s and 1950s, and today as well.

I thank you all for your views and comments, and I would like to make some comments at the end of the debate.


Procedura “catch-the-eye”


  Tunne Kelam (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to thank Prime Minister Ratas.

Prime Minister, suur tänu, you have brought the feeling of Europe from Estonia to Strasbourg and this unites us all. But, actually we are not debating Estonia today, but the future of Europe.

In 1992, just after Maastricht, which turned an economic community into a political union, the then President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, a great socialist, voiced his vision of the European future. He said that each of the 12 Member States now faced a challenge to make the biggest polity leap in post—war history to make this political union successful. Delors said that, if we did not succeed in giving Europe a soul, spirituality and inner meaning in the next ten years, this battle would be lost.

Today, 26 years have passed since then and I wonder if many of our problems today have emerged from this void which is still haunting us. In other words, man does not live by bread alone. Member States do not live only by feeding their national interests and we need to agree on what really keeps us together. It’s not only economic, social and security interests.

What is our European identity? It is not subsidies, consumption or social media, but a spirit of togetherness, rediscovering and revaluing our roots, and our spiritual and cultural continuity. Prime Minister Ratas has brought us this feeling of togetherness, of family and of solidarity. Aitäh.


  Ramón Jáuregui Atondo (S&D). – Señor presidente, señor primer ministro, he escuchado con atención sus palabras y observo en su discurso una ausencia y una contradicción.

La ausencia que más me ha sorprendido es que no hablemos —cuando hablamos del futuro de Europa— de la Europa social, de la política social, del pilar social, porque hay muchos europeos que solo creen en Europa si hay una Europa social.

Y la contradicción es que todas las aspiraciones que usted señalaba para una Europa que protege, para una Europa que hace frente a la guerra cibernética, que avanza en el mercado digital, para esa Europa que resuelve los temas migratorios, etcétera, necesitan más recursos económicos, señor primer ministro, y, en el marco plurianual, en el marco de las aportaciones de los Estados, hay una voluntad de no aportar más dinero.

Mi preocupación es: ¿cuál es su opinión sobre un marco plurianual tan corto para lograr tantos objetivos tan importantes?


  Urmas Paet (ALDE). – Mr President, first, I’d like to make one clarification, and it is that Estonia is not a small country – Estonia is a compact country.

I will continue in the beautiful Estonian language

Kõigepealt aitäh ettekande eest! Täielikult võib toetada plaane liikuda edasi kaitsepoliitikaga Euroopa Liidus. Oluline on teenuste siseturu areng ja palju muid asju, kuid Euroopa üks suuremaid muresid on tegelikult kehv demograafiline olukord paljudes riikides, kus inimesi sureb rohkem, kui neid sünnib. Elanikkond vananeb ja väheneb. Sellises olukorras on järjest keerulisem tagada ka majanduskasvu ja inimeste elatustaseme tõusu. Seega ka meie siin Euroopa Liidus peame väga tähelepanelikult vaatama, millised on need poliitikameetmed, mis saaksid seda olukorda parandada, sest ilma demograafilise olukorra paranemiseta pole suurt mõtet ka paljudel teistel toredatel asjadel.

Samas pean ma ütlema, et selle olukorra parandamisel on kõige olulisem muidugi inimeste endi käitumine ja isiklik panus. Seetõttu on meie tänane esineja, Eesti peaminister Jüri Ratas, hea eeskuju, kelle perre sündis kolm nädalat tagasi neljas laps. Palju õnne!


  Reinhard Bütikofer (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the remarks he made with regard to our foreign and security policy. I was very happy to hear what I considered an extremely realistic approach.

I have two questions on the basis of what you said, Prime Minister. Number one: when you emphasise the necessity for Europeans to take a shared initiative, to carry a bigger part of the burden of making sure that we can contribute to our own security, then we should also look to the fact that we’re not spending too little at the moment, but we are spending in a very ineffective way. We’re duplicating, triplicating and quadruplicating all our defence expenditure. The focus should be on making effective measures our number one priority and not just raising expenditure, without being more effective.

The second question I have for you, Prime Minister, is very simple: are you in favour of abandoning the unanimity rule on foreign policy?


  Δημήτριος Παπαδημούλης (GUE/NGL). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Ratas, άκουσα με πολύ ενδιαφέρον την ομιλία σας. Συμφωνώ μαζί σας ότι χρειαζόμαστε περισσότερη Ευρώπη και καλύτερη Ευρώπη. Και τώρα κινδυνεύει αυτό το ιστορικό εγχείρημα από όσους ανιστόρητα και ανόητα παρομοιάζουν την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση με τη Σοβιετική Ένωση. Είναι οι ακροδεξιοί αντιευρωπαίοι εθνικιστές και λαϊκιστές που θέλουν να γυρίσουμε πίσω στα σύνορα, τον εθνικισμό και τον πόλεμο.

Αλλά, αν θέλουμε να αντιμετωπίσουμε τον κίνδυνο της ανερχόμενης άκρας δεξιάς που θέλει να μας γυρίσει πίσω σε ένα εφιαλτικό παρελθόν, οφείλουμε να καταπολεμήσουμε και τις ανισότητες, γιατί οι ανισότητες τρέφουν τον λαϊκίστικο ακροδεξιό εθνικισμό.

Γι’ αυτό χρειαζόμαστε όχι μόνο περισσότερη Ευρώπη, αλλά και καλύτερη Ευρώπη, με ισχυρότερες πολιτικές κοινωνικής συνοχής, με περισσότερη ανάπτυξη για τους πολλούς και όχι για τους λίγους. Ανήκετε σε μια νέα γενιά πολιτικών και πιστεύω ότι αυτή η νέα γενιά οφείλει να αναλάβει ακόμη πιο ισχυρές ηγετικές πρωτοβουλίες για μια καλύτερη, δημοκρατικότερη, κοινωνική Ευρώπη.


  Jiří Payne (EFDD). – Pane předsedající, pane premiére Ratasi, bavíme se o budoucnosti Evropské unie a Vy moc dobře víte, že Evropská unie se rusky řekne „Европейский союз“. To zní velmi podobně jako Sovětský svaz a já bych se chtěl teď omezit na jednu podobnost v právní oblasti.

Dobře víte, že všechny komunistické státy měly ve svých ústavách článek, který hovoří o vedoucí úloze komunistické strany, podle kterého nemohla existovat žádná legální opozice, podle kterého nemohla existovat férová soutěž politických stran. A my máme podobné ustanovení v Lisabonské smlouvě. V čl. 17 odst. 3 se říká, že členové Komise jsou vybíráni na základě požadavků evropanství, to znamená, že v Evropské unii nikdy nemůže existovat férová soutěž politických stran. To znamená, že v Evropské unii vždycky bude diskriminována opozice, která si myslí jenom trochu něco jiného, než je ten hlavní proud. A já Vás chci poprosit: tento příklad, který jsem tady citoval, je jedním z mnoha desítek příkladů demokratického deficitu v Evropské unii. Hrozného demokratického deficitu. Já Vás chci poprosit, aby Estonsko se přičinilo o to, abychom okamžitě, důsledně a definitivně odstranili demokratický deficit z evropského kontinentu.


  Γεώργιος Επιτήδειος (NI). – Καλώς ήρθατε, κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ. Έχω τρία ερωτήματα: αναφέρατε ότι οι χώρες της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενώσεως θα πρέπει να διαθέτουν το 2% του ΑΕΠ για την άμυνα, προκειμένου να αισθάνονται ασφαλείς. Με εξαίρεση την Ελλάδα και την Κύπρο, οι οποίες δέχονται άμεσες και συνεχείς απειλές κατά της εδαφικής ακεραιότητάς τους από την Τουρκία. Καμία άλλη χώρα της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενώσεως δεν δέχεται τέτοια απειλή. Παράλληλα, λόγω του ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση συνεργάζεται με το ΝΑΤΟ, ο οποίος είναι αμυντικός οργανισμός, ποιος ο λόγος να υποβληθούν τα κράτη σε αυτή την οικονομική θυσία σε μια περίοδο άγριας λιτότητας;

Σε ό,τι αφορά το μεταναστευτικό, η πολιτική της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενώσεως έχει αποτύχει παταγωδώς, με αποτέλεσμα η Ιταλία και η Ελλάδα να έχουν κατακλυστεί από εκατοντάδες χιλιάδων παράνομους μετανάστες. Ειδικότερα η Ελλάδα προορίζεται να γίνει μόνιμος καταυλισμός αυτών των ανθρώπων. Συμφωνείτε ότι τα hotspot θα πρέπει να δημιουργηθούν στις χώρες που προωθούν παράνομους μετανάστες στην Ευρώπη, και κυρίως στην Τουρκία;

Τέλος, θεωρείτε ότι η κατάργηση της αρχής της ομοφωνίας στη λήψη αποφάσεων στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση με τη δημιουργία Ευρώπης δύο ή και τριών ταχυτήτων προάγει την ενότητα της Ευρώπης και εξυπηρετεί τα συμφέροντα των μικρών κρατών, όπως είναι και η χώρα σας;


  Ева Майдел (PPE). – Г-н Премиер, Европа е в трудна глобална ситуация. Традиционните партньори променят политиката си и заплахите за благоденствието и мира в света стават все повече, като миграцията към Европа или промяната на производствата и търговските войни.

Много хора смятат, че ние можем да променим тези глобални процеси, като се опитваме да върнем крачка назад историята. Аз смятам, че за да успокоим нашите граждани, за да гарантираме техния живот и благоденствие, няма смисъл да гледаме назад. Вместо да опитваме да контролираме нещата, които не могат да се контролират, ние трябва да се обърнем към други цели.

Трябва да изградим силна икономика, която да ни гарантира висока добавена стойност, за да имаме ресурси да създаваме нови политики или партньорства. Трябва ни икономика, която да отваря нови достъпни работни места на нашите граждани, които са загубили работата си. Трябва ни икономика, която да ни прави независими в случай на глобални кризи.

За мен отговорът е налагането на технологиите и засилването на цифровата икономика. Естония е един от символите на този подход и затова Ви поздравявам и се надявам, че Европа все повече ще приема този модел на развитие.


  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D). – Aš labai trumpai norėčiau paklausti apie energetinę nepriklausomybę. Aš esu iš Lietuvos ir kartu su kitais savo kolegomis iš Baltijos šalių ir kitų valstybių per devynis metus sukūrėme gana nemažai įvairių dokumentų, kurie lygtai apibrėžtų mūsų Europos Sąjungos energetinę nepriklausomybę nuo trečių šalių, tame tarpe ir nuo Rusijos. Tačiau realybė, aš manau ir Jūs sutiksite, yra kita. Todėl, kad mes prieš keletą metų visiškai nesusitarėm – trys Baltijos šalys – dėl bendro projekto, atominės elektrinės statybos. Labai bijojome, kad mus užterš, kad mes patys užteršim ir per tuos metus dabar, kai mes nesusitarėm, iškilo Astravo atominė elektrinė. Taip pat mes labai daug išnaudojom savo politinio potencialo ginčydamiesi dėl Nord Stream 1 projekto, bet jis yra šiandien pastatytas. Taip pat Nord Sream 2 projektas jau bus praktiškai įgyvendintas. Todėl energetinė nepriklausomybė susideda ne iš to, kiek mes dokumentų sukuriame, o priklauso nuo to, kokie yra generavimo pajėgumai. Todėl aš norėčiau Jūsų vizijos, jūsų išsakytos minties, kaip mes ateityje gyvensime būdami dar labiau priklausomi nuo vieno tiekėjo – Rusijos tiek dėl elektros energijos, tiek dėl dujų.


  Seán Kelly (PPE). – A Uachtaráin, cuirim fáilte roimh Phríomh-Aire na hEastóine agus, a Phríomh-Aire, comhghairdeas as ucht an aithisc bhreá a thug tú dúinn agus go háirithe gur úsáid tú do theanga dhúchais féin san aitheasc sin.

Estonia has played a very important role in the European Union since it joined. We’ve had many fine Members, and none more so than my great friend and EPP colleague, the Estonian hero Tunne Kelam. It is a joy to work with him. In your speech, Prime Minister, you made some very interesting points. You said that unity doesn’t have to mean uniformity. Well said. By way of illustration, you said that different levels of taxes in different Member States are normal for you. Well said again. My question to you is: have you found pressure to harmonise taxes? How would you deal with that? How should countries like Ireland and Estonia deal with that pressure if it were to come up again in the future?


  Evelyn Regner (S&D). – Herr Präsident! Sehr geehrter Premierminister! Wer an Estland denkt, denkt an Digitalisierung, und wer an Digitalisierung denkt, denkt an Estland. Das ist ein wunderschönes Image, das Sie haben, das aber auch mit viel Verantwortung verbunden ist. Denn wir brauchen Rechtssicherheit, wenn wir uns für einen offenen Binnenmarkt in dieser Hinsicht einsetzen.

Wie schaut aber die Realität aus? Die ist oftmals sehr schwierig. Wenn man per Mausklick ganz schnell ein Unternehmen gründen kann, passiert es auch sehr flott, dass vielleicht Steuerrecht, Sozialrecht umgangen wird. Hier passiert sehr viel Schindluder.

Und daher ist jetzt meine Frage an Sie: Was machen Sie ganz aktiv? Wie schaut Ihr estnischer Beitrag aus, aktiv gegen Briefkastenfirmen, aktiv gegen Geldwäsche vorzugehen, in einem Land, das sehr positiv offen ist, aber natürlich auch aufpassen muss, dass im Rahmen dieser Offenheit nicht auch diejenigen, die es mit den positiven Dingen nicht so gut meinen, entsprechend agieren? Daher, setzen Sie sich in dieser Hinsicht ein, dass mehr Rechtssicherheit besteht, online wie offline!


  Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, just to save my colleagues time, I will not start to repeat my proposals about the future of Europe and how to reform its institutions, etc. I will send them to you, Prime Minister, in written form. I hope you will take them into your campaigning platform, and I can guarantee with those proposals you can win the elections.

Thank you for coming here and for your good speech, and I wish you all the best. Just a final remark to the colleagues who have amused me by comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union: it’s an insult to all the people who suffered in the Soviet Union. Let me tell you that the difference is clear: if you had made that kind of remark in the Soviet Union, if the EU were the Soviet Union, you’d been in a Gulag or, in the worst case, shot extrajudicially. So please stop making such comparisons. You will also save our time.


  Νικόλαος Χουντής (GUE/NGL). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, η χώρα σας είναι από τα αγαπημένα παιδιά της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης. Θεωρείται χώρα-υπόδειγμα, γιατί έχετε ευθυγραμμιστεί τελικά με τις νεοφιλελεύθερες απαιτήσεις της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και με τα επιθετικά σχέδια του ΝΑΤΟ. Κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, δεν μπορεί να συνδέεται το μέλλον της Ευρώπης με μοντέλα ανάπτυξης που συνθλίβουν το κοινωνικό κράτος, οδηγούν στην ανεργία, ελαστικοποιούν τις εργασιακές σχέσεις και οδηγούν χιλιάδες νέους στο εξωτερικό της χώρας, ενώ στοχεύουν στην υπερσυγκέντρωση του πλούτου.

Δεν μπορούμε να μιλάμε για χώρες-υπόδειγμα όπου το ένα τέταρτο του πληθυσμού είναι κάτω από το όριο της φτώχειας και ο κατώτατος μισθός δεν ξεπερνάει τα 500 ευρώ. Δεν μπορούμε να μιλάμε για χώρες-υπόδειγμα που, για να περάσουν αυτή την πολιτική, χρησιμοποιούν και αυταρχικές πολιτικές και διώξεις αντιφασιστών αγωνιστών.

Κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, η συνέχιση αυτής της πολιτικής, η εμμονή σε αυτή την πολιτική, η στήριξη αυτών των νεοφιλελεύθερων πολιτικών και των επιθετικών σχεδίων του ΝΑΤΟ δεν θα έχουν καλά αποτελέσματα για τις νέες γενιές, για τη δημοκρατία σήμερα και για την ασφάλεια της Ευρώπης.


  Patrick O’Flynn (EFDD). – Mr President, Mr Ratas, your country has adapted well to EU membership, but I hope you will acknowledge the problems afflicting larger countries in Europe. European citizens in their millions wish to protect their social and cultural values and their stable communities, yet the ideology of the EU treats human beings as just another factor of production. Hence the unlimited commitment to free movement as part of the single market. EU leaders are also insensitive to the way that allowing millions of young men from Africa and Asia to migrate under the guise of refugees is putting those values and those communities under strain.

This may not affect you much in Tallinn, but it does affect people in Toulon, Turin and many other cities and towns across Europe. If the EU is to convince populations that it will protect their communities and their way of life, it will have to place strict limits both on internal migration between Member States and migration from outside the bloc. It shows no sign of stepping up to the mark on either, so I’m afraid we must all stand by for a bumpy ride.


  Lara Comi (PPE). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Primo ministro, ho ascoltato il Suo discorso e volevo porre l'attenzione su quel concetto al quale si è rivolto per l'aspetto fiscale. Nel mercato interno, il mercato unico per noi è la chiave dell'Europa, un'Europa che vogliamo come unione politica, come unione fiscale. Ecco, da questo volevo capire da Lei se veramente ci crede in un'unione fiscale e perché, ad esempio, dai costi dell'energia noi abbiamo una non competitività all'interno dei vari Stati membri, quindi all'interno del mercato unico, a differenza invece di altre realtà.

Io arrivo dall'Italia, dove il costo dell'energia è molto alto e questo non ci permette di essere competitivi e di avere, tra virgolette, dei nemici all'interno dell'Unione europea. Lei crede in un'armonizzazione del sistema o in un'Europa a due velocità?


  Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL). – Señor presidente, usted ha hablado de la cuarta revolución industrial y a mí me gustaría saber qué propuestas tiene encima de la mesa para combatir el enorme desempleo que ya se ha dicho, ya se ha reconocido que va a generar, o que está generando.

Me gustaría también que me contestara si tiene algún proyecto para trabajar en cultura de paz. He oído hablar mucho de reforzar el militarismo, de reforzar la seguridad, pero no ha hablado nada de qué va a hacer para generar la cultura de paz.

Y, finalmente, me gustaría preguntarle qué proyecto tiene para combatir la desigualdad de las mujeres, para combatir la brecha —enorme brecha— de género, para luchar contra la violencia machista y, también, contra la pobreza, y si va a hacer alguna propuesta para repartir la riqueza.


  Κώστας Μαυρίδης (S&D). – Κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, καλωσορίσατε. Συζητάμε για το μέλλον της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και θα επικεντρωθώ σε αυτό. Η κυριότερη αιτία της αποστασιοποίησης των Ευρωπαίων πολιτών, που έχει πολιτικό νόημα και βάση, είναι το γεγονός ότι υπάρχει χάσμα ανάμεσα στις αξίες που δηλώνουμε ότι μας δεσμεύουν και στις πολιτικές που ακολουθούμε. Αυτό αφορά και την ίδια την Επιτροπή. Μπορεί λοιπόν ο Ευρωπαίος πολίτης να βρεθεί στο κέντρο της λήψης των αποφάσεων με την καθιέρωση άμεσης δημοκρατικής εκλογής των Επιτρόπων από τους λαούς της Ευρώπης ανά κράτος μέλος; Θα ήθελα να ακούσω την τοποθέτησή σας.

Δεύτερον –και απευθύνομαι και στην Επιτροπή–, χτες ψηφίσαμε αποκοπή κονδυλίων προς την Τουρκία και πριν μερικούς μήνες διαπιστώσαμε ότι κράτος δικαίου δεν υπάρχει στη χώρα αυτή. Δεν υπάρχει κράτος δικαίου και ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, αλλά υπήρξαν δημοκρατικές εκλογές, κύριε Επίτροπε; Απαντήστε μας, σας παρακαλώ.


  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, Tallinn is the capital in Europe closest to Stockholm, yet for decades it was still very far away. The first time I arrived in Tallinn I met KGB police border patrols. I had to pay with roubles, there was surveillance and – I can confess today – I did smuggle three Ericsson mobile phones.

(Laughter and applause)

I confess to that criminal act.

I met with dissidents and heroes under the dictatorship.

Today, we are closer than ever thanks to the European Union – open markets, freedom of movement, freedom of expression. Those who compare this European Union, which Estonia is an outstanding example and part of, to the Soviet Union, don’t know what the Soviet Union was.


But, worse than that, they don’t know what freedom is and I want you, Prime Minister, to show, with strength, how we can develop our Union with digitalisation, open markets, the dynamic economies making Europe strong versus Russia, versus China and versus all those who would like to undermine the international order of law and justice.



  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Mr President, I would like to say the following to Prime Minister Ratas.

Prime Minister, you started your speech this morning with a reminder of former times in which the Baltics were under someone else’s influence. But then came the day when when Estonians were eager to embrace the values of the European Union: the rule of law, democracy and unity in diversity. You made a case for the future – the digital single market, foreign policy, defence – but the near future is the upcoming elections of 2019. Let us face it, the European Union is more divided than ever: north, south, east and west; and winners and losers.

So we urge you, Prime Minister Ratas, to make the case to uphold the political will for Estonians to be part of the enhanced cooperation to make a better Europe than this, to make it better, to make it right, to push the European Union forward in the coming elections of 2019, and to fight populism, just as you said.


  Alojz Peterle (PPE). – Gospod predsednik vlade, hvala za vaše jasne in odločne proevropske besede in čestitke k odličnemu predsedovanju.

Kot človek, ki se posebej posveča vprašanjem zdravja, bi vas rad vprašal, če ima Estonija tudi kakšne posebne nove ideje, kako bi izboljšali zdravje v Evropski zvezi, mi ne moremo narediti več Evrope z več bolniki.

In zdravje je eden od ključnih izzivov in jaz bi želel, da Evropa tudi tu pokaže več enotnosti.


  Nicola Caputo (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, complimenti al Primo ministro estone per quanto sta facendo.

Tra poco più di 7 mesi i cittadini europei si recheranno alle urne per esprimere un giudizio sull'Europa, sarà un vero e proprio referendum e anche se il sogno europeo è l'unico orizzonte politico di lungo respiro, il vento della paura e dell'incertezza potrebbe condizionare l'esito delle elezioni.

"Primum vivere deinde philosophari" diceva Hobbes. In questa legislatura i progressi si sono avuti in materia ambientale e in pochi altri settori, ma se in periodi di crisi non prestiamo la dovuta attenzione alla costruzione di un welfare effettivo, vuol dire decidere intenzionalmente di creare un'Europa a più velocità, non capendo che è un errore lasciare qualcuno indietro. O camminiamo fianco a fianco, o il progetto europeo non esisterà più.

Non so se le elezioni europee rifletteranno gli esiti delle elezioni nazionali, ma il vento non lo si può fermare a mani nude, occorrono proposte concrete per il lavoro, l'economia e l'immigrazione.

Primo ministro Ratas, Lei cosa ne pensa?


  Arne Lietz (S&D). – Herr Präsident, sehr geehrter Herr Premierminister! Ich bin Visegrád-Deutscher, ich bin Ostdeutscher. Dieser Tag heute ist ein besonderer Tag, denn wir haben heute den Tag der deutschen Wiedervereinigung.

Estland hat durch die singende Revolution mit dazu beigetragen, dass wir in diesem freien Europa leben können und dass wir Europa jetzt gestalten können. Estland ist Vorreiter der digitalen Revolution, im Handhaben der Situation, dass wir die Bürgerinnen und Bürger in einer ganz anderen Art und Weise mit dem E-Government, aber auch mit Internetsicherheit betreuen können.

Mich würde interessieren, wie Sie den Europäischen Verteidigungsfonds sehen. Sehen Sie es ähnlich, wie es oft und auch bei Ihnen in Estland bei einer Diskussion der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz diskutiert wurde, dass wir den Fonds nutzen sollten für mehr digitale Sicherheit, dass wir ein europäisches Netzwerk aufbauen und dort sozusagen die Sicherheitsinfrastruktur in Richtung Digitales verstärken, und nicht auf konventionelle Waffen?


(Fine della procedura catch-the-eye)


  Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia. – Mr President, first of all, thank you for all the kind words and comments, especially from my Estonian colleagues. I will try to focus and give as many concrete answers as I can. Tunne, I really appreciate what you said about Estonia, our country. I would like to thank you especially for your personal commitment and support.

Regarding the social pillar, I am proud that we agreed the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights during the Estonian Presidency. We did so in Gothenburg in Sweden. It was a very important achievement and now is the time to move on with the implementation of the pillar principles.

Regarding the question about the Baltic States and our energy market, it is so important today that we have good connections between Finland and Estonia – I mean two Estlinks. It is very good that we will have the Balticconnector and of course we need good cooperation if we are adopting the LNG. As I said before, for all three Baltic States it is very important to synchronise our energy market with the rest of Europe and with the middle of Europe.

As regards defence, both quality and quantity are important. Efficiency is important, but we also must spend to percentages. Regarding EU defence cooperation, we have taken big steps forward with European defence initiatives and I am proud that during the Estonian Presidency we achieved a lot in this area. Now is the time to implement the decisions taken, for example, the PESCO projects. In this way, we can deliver more security for our citizens. In addition, I cannot stress enough the importance of preserving transatlantic unity and the need to advance EU and NATO cooperation.

As for foreign policy, the proposal on the table is worth exploring, but we remain cautious. Regarding different speeds, when it comes to the question about one, two or three speeds, we always answer with a sense of unity and the same direction. I do not like a divided Europe and more divisions. Regarding taxation, I can only repeat that it is a national matter, but in digital tax, I think that we really need global solutions.

Regarding energy security, our views on Nord Stream 2 are well known. In our opinion, the interconnections between the Union and third countries must be subject to the rules covering the Energy Union. The interconnectors with third countries should seek to diversify the Union’s energy sources and increase the Union’s security of supply. Nord Stream 2 does not meet those criteria. It is a political project of the Russian Federation. This opinion is shared by a number of EU Member States.

As I said, the Energy Union is the key to Estonia’s connections. The Nordic energy market has brought down energy prices and provided more services and opportunities. I would like to thank Mr Hökmark for his support. I am one hundred percent in agreement with you. We believe in digital solutions in health issues as well. We introduced our ideas during our Presidency and stand ready to discuss them.

We are not in denial regarding the debate over taxes. It is important that we fight tax evasion, cooperate closely and have similar tax bases. I know that your next discussion here in Parliament, in the afternoon session, will be about the risks of money laundering. If I may, I would like to share my views about money laundering. There was a question about this as well. Estonia has zero tolerance for money laundering. Combating these kinds of crimes is a clear priority for us and it is important that the Estonian financial supervision authority discovered suspicious transactions in the Estonian branch, for example, of Danske Bank. As a result, in 2015 the branch had to close its high-risk non—resident portfolio. However, since Danske Bank is a Danish credit institution, its banking supervision is primarily carried out by the Danish authorities. In recent years, we have significantly broadened the fight against money laundering in Estonia. However, this is a continuous process and a major challenge for the European Union as well. Currently, the Estonian authorities are working with Denmark and other countries to investigate whether the requirements for combating money laundering in 2009 to 2014 were fulfilled or were not met at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank. The prosecutor’s office has commenced criminal proceedings.

In conclusion, as I said at the beginning of my speech, we are building a future every day. What unites us in the EU is much more that than what divides us. By having common policies, we have been able to make a difference. We Europeans are stronger together and I hope we will spare no efforts in securing our collective interests and values in the world. I am very appreciative of all the Members of the European Parliament and the President of Parliament, Mr Antonio Tajani.



  Presidente. – Grazie Signor Primo ministro. Ancora una volta il Parlamento è stato al centro del dibattito sul futuro dell’Europa, andiamo avanti in questa direzione. Grazie ancora.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 162)


  Krystyna Łybacka (S&D), na piśmie. – Szanowny panie premierze! Zwracam się do pana, aby w dyskusji na nowymi ramami finansowymi spróbował pan przekonać szefów państw i rządów o konieczności potrojenia finansowania programu Erasmus+ na lata 2021–2027. Program ten jest najbardziej popularną i cenioną inicjatywą unijną, która wspiera działania w dziedzinie edukacji, szkoleń, młodzieży i sportu. Miliony obywateli mogło dzięki Erasmusowi zarówno uczyć się i szkolić za granicą, jak również pracować nad wspólnymi międzynarodowymi oraz międzysektorowymi projektami na rzecz nowych, innowacyjnych rozwiązań w obszarze kształcenia i szkolenia.

Program ten w znaczący sposób przyczynia się do rozwoju osobistego oraz podnoszenia wiedzy i umiejętności jego uczestników i przez to stanowi ważne narzędzie w walce z bezrobociem młodych. Dzięki wymianie dobrych praktyk oraz doskonaleniu pracowników szkolnictwa i osób pracujących z młodzieżą Erasmus jest także motorem podnoszenia jakości edukacji w państwach członkowskich.

Panie premierze! Kształcenie i szkolenie to najlepsza inwestycja w przyszłość Unii Europejskiej. Erasmus funkcjonuje już od 30 lat, a popyt na wzięcie w nim udziału znacznie przekracza jego możliwości budżetowe. Dlatego co najmniej trzykrotne zwiększenie jego budżetu jest niezbędne, abyśmy mogli utrzymać sukces Erasmusa i zwiększać poparcie obywateli dla naszych działań.


(La seduta è sospesa per alcuni istanti in attesa del turno di votazioni)



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