Estonia is now taking on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time since joining in 2004. Under normal circumstances it would have taken over at the helm in the first half of 2018. In the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote, however, the small state in north eastern Europe will take the place of the UK, thus launching a new presidency trio with Bulgaria and Austria.
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among EU member states, with each state holding the Presidency for six months. During this period, the relevant country chairs the meetings and consultations at all levels of the Council.
Since 2009 the member states holding three successive Presidencies have collaborated closely over a period of 18 months in groups of three, known as presidency trios. They draw up long-term goals and elaborate a common programme for the Council for an 18-month period. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries produces its own more detailed six-month programme.
Priority topics for the next six months
On 15 June Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss the Presidency. "During our Presidency, our overarching goal will be to retain cohesion and unity within the EU," said the Prime Minister.
Estonia intends to facilitate an open economy and open society in Europe, while ensuring security and protection. This is well reflected in the motto of Estonia’s Presidency "Unity through Balance".
Digitalisation – a project for the future
In view of Estonia’s pioneering role in digitalisation, the Estonian Presidency has set itself the goal of pushing ahead with the digital agenda in the EU. Estonia intends to work to ensure that Europe can keep pace with technological progress, because digitalisation is changing the everyday lives of the people, companies and states of Europe.
In the run-up to the hand-over, the Chancellor assured Estonia’s Prime Minister of her support. "We, on the German side, will do all we can to support the Estonian Presidency and ensure that it is successful," she declared during Prime Minister Jüri Ratas’ visit to Berlin on 15 June.