Estonian EU Council presidency to focus on ensuring a safe and secure Europe
The Estonian Council presidency is set to focus on ensuring a safe and secure Europe, writes Urmas Paet.
Urmas Paet | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
For Estonia, the Council presidency means great responsibility but also an opportunity to influence the development of the EU in the right direction (read: stronger future together). The key issues during this presidency will be a safe and secure Europe, digital Europe and the free movement of data and, of course, Brexit talks.
As Parliament's rapporteur on the European defence union, I find it particularly important that Estonia stands for a Europe that is able to take care of its own security.
This is an urgent matter, as Europe's security situation has grown increasingly fragile - primarily as a result of the activities of ISIS and other terrorist groups, Russia's aggressive behaviour, as well as violence and instability in neighbouring countries.
This means that Europe, in order to defend itself and increase its security, must do more.
In order to achieve this, the member states should work more closely together, have a goal of spending two per cent of their GDP on defence, finance infrastructure in member states at the eastern border and establish a Schengen of defence.
The UK's departure from the EU is off to a bumpy start. No matter how it ends up for the Brits (if it ends at all), the remaining 27 member states must stay united.
The last 12 months have seen swift progress in the development of European defence and security capabilities.
Secularism, as a bulwark to radicalisation, should be a key EU foreign policy priority, argues the European Foundation for Democracy's Tommaso Virgili.
If Europe is serious about fighting terrorism and extremism, the institutions of the EU need to be more actively engaged in the current situation involving Qatar, argues Richard Burchill.