Representatives of the national parliaments of the European Union member states and the European Parliament discussed the future of the European Union, the role of parliaments, and the issues relating to the digital sphere today in Tallinn. The debate focused on the impact of Brexit on the future of the EU.
Opening the meeting, President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor said that the open world had to defend its openness. “In an open society, public authority has to be open as well,” Nestor added. “We will fare the best when we find a functioning format of continuous cooperation between representative democracy and non-governmental organisations.”
President Kersti Kaljulaid emphasised in her speech that there was value added in acting together. In her opinion, it is necessary to act together in financing research, increasing security, and in regional cohesion. She admitted that because of Brexit, the financial possibilities of the European Union would be smaller, and therefore it was necessary to focus on cross-border projects.
EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier assured that the partnership of the EU with the UK should not just focus on trade in the future, but would also involve education, security, relations with third countries and development aid. “There are a lot of things we can do together,” Barnier said. “We need to come up with a true partnership with the UK.”
In Barnier’s opinion, it is important that we not only dealt with the results of Brexit, but also learnt from this experience. According to him, it is necessary to think of the reasons why so many citizens have distanced themselves from the European Union and do not feel a part of it.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Toomas Vitsut, who chaired the session on the future of the EU, thinks that in the discussions on the future it is necessary to keep in mind that our decisions will have a significant impact on the coming generations. “Therefore we should not radically reform anything that is not broken,” Vitsut said. “It is necessary to keep the single market and the fundamental freedoms of the European Union in the focus, and it is also necessary to increase the social dimension.”
Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Monika Haukanõmm, who moderated the discussion at the session where bringing the European Union closer to its citizens was spoken about, said that it had been emphasised that the discussed documents should be made public before the ideas were formed into draft legislation. It is also necessary to use simple and clear language, so that people could understand it and have a personal relationship with the issue.
Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling, who moderated the session on digital issues, said that we should not accuse technology of developing too fast, but only ourselves for being too slow in taking it into use.
The meeting will continue tomorrow with the discussion on how to build an effective and sustainable Security Union. European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will deliver a speech. Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Marianne Mikko will moderate the session.
Deputy Director General for Migration of the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission Simon Mordue together with Edward Zammit Lewis from the House of Representatives of Malta and Anne-Mari Virolainen from the Parliament of Finland will speak on how to prevent and fight against illegal migration. The discussion will be moderated by Jaak Madison. The Estonian delegation also includes Tiina Kangro and Oudekki Loone.