Estonian Presidency

What are the priorities?

The Baltic state Estonia with only about 1.3 million inhabitants, is holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2017. Originally, it was planned that Estonia should hold the Presidency in the first half of 2018. However, as the United Kingdom did not want to take its Presidency due to the Brexit vote, the Estonian Presidency had to start earlier. Estonia is in a trio Presidency with its subsequent states Bulgaria, in the first half of 2018, and Austria, in the second half of 2018. The Presidency is especially important for Estonia, as it is its first one since its entry into the EU in 2004. The motto of the Estonian Presidency is “Unity through Balance”.

The priorities and focuses of the Estonian Presidency include the European and Digital Single Market, the Eastern Partnership, the Energy Union and of course one of Estonia’s biggest ambitions, E-Government and the information society. Because of the current political situation and the ongoing terror attacks in Europe, the whole trio Presidency, starting with Estonia, will deal with European security policy. In addition, migration politics will play a major role, as well as economic growth and the global role of the EU, especially in the light of a changing political world.

Within the European Union Estonia is especially known for its leading position in regard to digitalisation and information technology. Thus, Estonia’s capital Tallinn is currently testing self-propelled public transport. Estonia has been the first country worldwide, in which it was possible to vote through E-voting in 2005. The people could vote through internet and firmly installed voting machines, but only around 20 percent of all voters used the new method. At the Parliamentary elections in 2015 the number of people using the new voting method stayed at the same level, at one fifth of all votes. As it is commonly acknowledged that Estonia is a very innovative state, especially when it comes to new technology and digitalisation, it is expected that the Estonian Presidency will bring some fresh air to the Digital Agenda of the EU. The European Union shall be able to keep up with the global technological advancements. Inter alia, Estonia war organising a Digital Summit of all heads of states and governments in September in its capital Tallinn.