The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, met today with the Prime Minister Ratas to discuss the priorities of Estonia's EU Presidency which begins in the second half of the year. The two leaders spoke of the urgency to build a united European Union by listening to all citizens, increasing investment and delivering a digital Europe.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas presented President Markkula with an Estonian e-residency card . The r-residency programme was launched in December 2014 to give everyone in the world a chance to apply for a secure digital identity and there-by get access to Estonian digital services, for example to launch and manage businesses virtually.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas remarked that all EU residents should have a chance to enjoy the same level of digital services, both public and private, that Estonian residents and e-residents do. “During our EU presidency, we will put the strongest emphasis on removing barriers and creating a good framework for digital development in Europe,” he said. The Prime Minister also mentioned that under eIDAS regulation, public agencies at all levels have to accept digitally signed documents and make their services compatible with digital identities of other member states. “European regions and cities have to start taking strong steps in this direction as well,” Ratas emphasised.
Expressing the Committee's full support for the Estonian EU Presidency, President Markku Markkula said: "It is an honour to be upgraded to an e-resident of Estonia. It's my turn now to ensure that all regions and cities benefit from digitalisation. EU governments at all levels should embrace the latest in technology to improve public services by investing in e-governance, smart transport and energy. This pioneering initiative symbolises that Europe is ready to break down borders, communicate and work together to deliver on issues that matter most to citizens"
The head of the Estonian delegation in the CoR, Uno Silberg (Kose Municipal Council), who participated in the meeting commented, "The Estonian Delegation to the CoR is ready to deliver the EU Presidencies' priorities locally and regionally. In particular, we want to see that the best quality internet and digital services are accessible by all citizens and communities at the most affordable prices possible. Everyone must reap the benefits of a digital Europe."
President Markkula later met the Estonia's Minister of Environment Marko Pomerants where the EU's climate and energy package and COP23 climate conference preparations were discussed. He then held talks with the Estonian European Union Affairs Committee of the Parliament led by Toomas Vitsut, Head of the EUAC and a previous CoR member, and explained how the Committee was contributing to the current reflection on the European Union.
During the Estonian presidency, the European Committee of the Regions will organise several events in the country. It's Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) will meet in Tallinn on 3-4 July and its Bureau – the institution's political driving force consisting of its President, the first Vice-President, 28 other vice-presidents, chairs of the political groups and 28 other members – will bring Europe's local and regional leaders to the Estonian capital at the beginning of September.
Note to editors
1) The meeting between the Prime Minister and President Markkula was also attended by Taavi Aas (Acting Mayor of Tallinn), Uno Silberg (Head of the Estonian delegation in the CoR and member of Kose Municipality Council), Andres Jaadla (CoR member & member of Rakvere City Council) and Kalev Kallo (Chairman of Tallinn City Council and CoR member).
2) The European Committee of the Regions is organising a series of open debates in towns, cities and regions. Citizens’ views will be formally fed back in a report to be submitted to the European Council's President. The Committee is also encouraging regional and local councils to hold their own debates, including in their own institutional bodies, on the future of Europe to ensure that citizens' are heard during this time of reflection.
Letter of the President of the European Council to the European Committee of the Regions.
3) Estonia's e-residency is a digital identity available to anyone interested in establishing a location-independent business online. The first government-backed transnational digital identity in the world, It aspires to pioneer the first borderless e-society. Estonian e-residents can register a company online, perform e-banking transactions, access international payment service providers, declare taxes online, manage a company remotely and digitally sign documents and contracts.
Tel. +32 22822063