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Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas: the Estonian Presidency is characterised by openness and an embrace of cooperation


Speaking in front of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) this afternoon, Estonian Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas said that the European Union must focus on achieving specific results and channelling all its energy into making the EU a better place to live.

“We should constantly strengthen the European Union and focus on achieving concrete results, demonstrating the value-added of the EU in very practical terms,” said Deputy Minister Maasikas.

Deputy Minister Maasikas detailed each of the priorities. An open economy will help to create new jobs and a simple and predictable environment for doing business, a safe and secure Europe also means strong protection for the EU’s external borders, and digital solutions pervade all of the spheres of the Estonian Presidency. “We will have a truly digital Europe only when geoblocking is ended and we are able to achieve the consensus on the digital single market,” said Deputy Minister Maasikas.

The Estonian Presidency is currently looking forward to Commission proposals on the free movement of data and the updated cybersecurity strategy. “We can see each day how the development of information society is changing the nature of our work. This calls for attention to be given to working conditions, development of skills as well as work-life balance,” said Deputy Minister Maasikas.

Topics in the remit of AFCO that came up in the presentation were Brexit, the distribution of parliamentary seats, the Transparency Register, the right to vote, the right of inquiry, and the financing of political parties. The Estonian Presidency is open in all regards, and looks to work closely together with the parliament on these issues.

The distribution of parliamentary seats is a complicated topic, but a decision on the matter must be taken this summer to ensure that member states have time to adjust to the new rules. The Transparency Register, including making lobbying more transparent, is one of the Estonian Presidency’s priorities and in near future this will again come up for discussion in cooperation with the Parliament. The electoral law issue concerns EU citizens’ right to vote in third countries, and is yet another topic on which the Estonian Presidency will lead discussions.