The Meeting of the Secretaries General of the European Union Parliaments was held in the Plenary Hall of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) today. Future of the EU, and the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation were discussed at the Meeting. It was unanimously found that in order to overcome both the internal and the external challenges, the EU had to be a more united, stronger and more democratic union.
President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor said in his welcome address that the one hundred years old Estonia continued to honour and protect the common European values. Nestor also assured that Estonia as a state and as a member of the EU would not lose its youthful and inquiring spirit and openness. Nestor pointed out that digital solutions and e-services had become an important part of the Estonian lifestyle, and emphasised that technology helped save time and resources and enabled constant and direct communication with citizens.
Secretary General of the Riigikogu Peep Jahilo, who chaired the event, said that the meeting of the Secretaries General helped to prepare for the Conference of Speakers of the EU Parliaments, which would be held in Tallinn in April 2018. The main topics of the Speakers’ Conference are the future and security of the European Union.
Speaking of the future of the EU, Secretary General of the European Parliament Klaus Welle emphasised that the EU had to overcome challenges from the North, the South, the East and the West, at the same time also facing the challenges inside the EU. In Welle’s opinion, external threats contribute to the increase of populism and extremism in member states. He highlighted the importance of the cooperation between the EU countries, and the need for ensuring external, internal and social security both inside the union and in its close neighbourhood.
Secretary General of the Senate of the Netherlands Geert-Jan Hamilton pointed out in his speech that interparliamentary cooperation had contributed to politically overcoming several crises in the recent years. In his opinion, important steps forward require broad support in the European Parliament and in the national parliaments.
The Secretaries general also discussed developing of the e-services of the parliaments, and the opportunities and challenges relating to it. Senior Analyst of the Information System Authority of Estonia Kadri Kaska, who presented a report, admitted that in this area, the practices and awareness of countries differed. Kaska thinks that mutual cooperation would be of help in digitalisation of the work of parliaments and increasing their security in doing that.
Secretary General of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria Stefana Karaslavova presented the parliamentary dimension of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council.