The Munich Security Conference has hardly ever been more necessary than in these turbulent times. Key actors of secu ...
3. October 2018
Future of Europe 10 - Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas
This is the written version of Manfred Weber's speech at the future of Europe debate in the European Parliament. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas from Estonia was present and talked about preserving unity within the EU, the completion of the digital single market and enhancement of internal and external security.
You can also follow Weber's speech recording here.
I would like to welcome Prime Minister Ratas to our debate on the future of Europe.
Mr Prime Minister, It is good to have you here today, because we can be inspired by the history of Estonia and by the strength of its people: This is especially true for the EPP Group, where we are lucky to have one of your compatriots among our Members. He is only one, but he counts for ten! Tunne Kelam fought the Soviet occupation first-hand and was never afraid to stand up against injustice – despite great risks. Together, Tunne Kelam and the people of Estonia achieved a lot: They achieved a Europe that fights back for what is right, a Europe that stands strong against all the odds and a Europe that sticks to its values.
Europe can learn a lot from the Estonians’ spirit. Estonia is as much a small country as it is an innovative and courageous country. You said it, Mr Prime Minister: Unity in diversity is what Europe is all about. There will be a Europe that cares about the small Member States, or there will be no Europe at all.
Estonia was reborn from the ashes. It was one of several victims of nationalism and brutalism. The Hitler-Stalin Pact meant oppression for more than 50 years. For Estonia, a united Europe means first of all freedom and security. Today, with Vladimir Putin on one side, Estonia needs a strong Europe that is able to defend itself. And with Donald Trump on the other side, Estonia also needs a self-confident Europe, which cares about security. In the same way as Europe must stick to NATO, we must also strengthen our European Defence Union. Why shouldn’t it be European troops that guarantee the security of the Baltic States in the future?
Sadly, Estonia was also one of the first countries to know a brand new type of warfare: Back in 2007 it withstood one of the first cyber attacks of the world. Today, Estonia is a leading nation in cybersecurity, at European level as well as globally. Estonia’s experience could be the starting point for the creation of a real European Cyber Brigade that defends the whole European Union against these new types of attacks.
Estonia can give Europe a wake-up call, when it comes to digital innovation: 99% of all public services in Estonia are e-services. Estonia has six times more start-ups per citizen than the EU average. But Europe must not stop at congratulating Estonia to this success. Estonia’s digital ambition must be a role model for Europe: Innovation is key for Europe’s success and innovation has always been at the core of the European DNA: The telescope, the printing press, the first rudimentary telephone, cinema – all these revolutionary technologies were created by Europeans. In today’s digital revolution, the USA are more of a frontrunner than Europe. Europe must give the right answers to become the world’s main driver of innovation again: Let us launch the next “Airbus” in key sectors of high digital potential: health, mobility and housing. Let us, for example, put all our research capacities together to overcome diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer.
Europe can become the continent that shapes the next wave of digital transformation because of our European values. In the upcoming years, digital innovations will not only reshape the classical industries, but also enter into every aspect of daily lives. This is why gaining people’s trust in innovation and taking their concerns seriously is what matters the most right now. Values and innovation go hand in hand. When a waiter feels that an iPad is taking over his job or a truck driver fears a future of self-driving vehicles on our streets, then we have to give an answer: We must shape a digital social market economy in Europe. This is also why in the EPP Group, we don’t think that making legislation on copyright or data protection means creating a burden for the innovative sector. To the opposite: A modern innovation policy sets clear rules for a level playing field that enables innovations instead of hindering them.
Finally, we must close the gap between the advanced regions and those, which are still catching up. Improving the digital infrastructure in the European Union is a key issue for keeping Europe together. This is why the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework must focus on investment in digital infrastructure and broadband access everywhere in Europe.
Technology does not shape the people – it is the people who shape technology. Our European way of life has all the ingredients for us to succeed: firm values, a fair social market economy, creative capacities, lively regions and stable democracies. We need to start now to shape the digital revolution with this European spirit. The future of Europe will not be written only through institutional reforms. Investing in innovation and digital infrastructure to ultimately improve European citizens’ quality of life is what matters most. The EPP Group is ready to lead the way into the digital future of our continent.