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Estonian Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas: The Estonian Presidency has served EU citizens well thus far

25.10.2017

Today, 24 October, at the Conference of Committee Chairs of European Parliament in Strasbourg, Estonian Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas delivered a report on the progress so far in the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Deputy Minister Maasikas said Estonia has focused on developing a stable, knowledge-based, competitive and supportive business environment, and progress has been made on major themes such as updating VAT on cross-border e-commerce and draft legislation dealing with the functioning of the electricity market. “One good example – and some may say, long overdue – is the highly political and substantive discussion of digital taxation. We are aiming at having ECOFIN conclusions on this subject in December,” said Deputy Minister Maasikas. Negotiations with European Parliament have led to a recent political agreement on Europe’s new anti-dumping methodology and the EU aims to conclude the trade negotiations with Japan by the end of the year. The European Public Prosecutor’s Officehas now been established.

In speaking about the changes in the security environment, internal security, and external border control, Maasikas said that above all, modern information systems and cooperation between member states must be strengthened. Estonia has made progress in upgrading the Schengen information system and the draft legislation on the Entry/Exit System and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System is in preparation. Reform of the common asylum system will help to bring the migration crises under control – draft legislation in this area is also seeing brisk progress.

In the field of external and security policy, Estonia has devoted attention to good cooperation with Eastern Partners and EU candidate countries, with the Eastern Partnership summit coming up in November in Brussels. An agreement has been reached on launching a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) this year. Discussions are continuing on how to cope with hybrid threats, on how to fund the EU operations and battle groups and on how to regulate the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. Maasikas stressed that “Estonia organised a cyber exercise – EU CYBRID 2017 – for the EU’s defence ministers in Tallinn, which was the first of its kind and also drew more attention to the need for closer EU-NATO cooperation in the field of cyber defence and exercises.”

One of the key topics of the Estonian Presidency is a digital Europe and the Tallinn Digital Summit held in September saw EU leaders come to consensus that “a digital Europe is not just a priority for the Estonian Presidency but for all of Europe,” said Maasikas. He said that, led by Estonia and likeminded member states, the Commission had introduced draft legislation on the free movement of data, and that there had been substantial progress on the draft electronic communication code.

Also important is a Europe that offers EU citizens equal opportunities, the development of education and skills, the diverse employment opportunities and the availability of quality services. Yesterday, Estonia achieved agreement on the directive on the posting of workers, which Maasikas said is one of the most complicated topics of the Estonian Presidency so far and – considering an agreement was ultimately reached – a good example of how member states are ready for compromise and committed to preserving the unity of the EU.

This evening, Maasikas will address the plenary session of European Parliament on the protection of journalists and media freedom in Malta, and tomorrow, Maasikas and the President of European Parliament Antonio Tajani will digitally sign an EU legal act for the first time in history.

Read the full text of Deputy Minister Maasikas’s speech.

Source: eu2017.ee