At today's plenary sitting of the Riigikogu, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas gave an overview of the activities of the Government in implementing the European Union policies, and Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling made the annual summary of the role of the Riigikogu in the shaping of the policies of the European Union.
The Prime Minister said that the main issue for this and the next year, which in many ways has even an existential meaning for Europe, is the resolution of the refugee crisis that has aggravated after the civil war in Syria. In connection with the terrorist attacks in Paris, Rõivas felt it necessary to say that it is arbitrary to directly link the war refugees to terror.
“Our first task is to gain control over the events,” Rõivas said. “We should not close the door in front of the needy; instead, we must improve the registering of the individuals arriving to Europe and Estonia, and determining their need for help.”
Rõivas said that the terrorist acts in Paris were disgusting attacks against our common democratic principles and way of life. “Our best possible response is to hold tight to our values and, above all, remain as we are, not to become similar to the attackers,” Rõivas said.
When speaking of the Ukrainian crisis, Rõivas said that a common foreign policy, including a policy of sanctions, must be patient, consistent and ready to respond to escalation, if necessary.
The Prime Minister said that the success of the Neighbourhood Policy and an unvarnished assessment of the security situation must be the corner stones of the European Union foreign and security strategy of Estonia. In his words, visa waiver and free trade agreement for Georgia and Ukraine will have to become the keywords for 2016. Rõivas emphasised that Estonia supports open membership and does not wish a political division of the European Union because the main strength of the European Union lies in its unity.
Summing up the issue of crises, Rõivas stressed that the cooperation, unity and solidarity of Europe help Estonia as well as all the other Member States.
In his speech, Rõivas also touched upon the euro area, agricultural policy, energy policy, and the development of the digital single market. He also spoke of the preparation for the Estonian Presidency in the first half of 2018.
The Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling said that there is no more important issue for Estonia and the European Union at the moment than finding a solution to the migration crisis.
“Although the European Union leaders must remain focused on quick implementation of the migration policy, we must not forget that a war is going on both in the east and south of us, right across out border, and if Russia’s aggression continues, the flight of many people from Ukraine may be added to the flows of refugees from the south,” Palling said.
When speaking of the neighbourhood of the European Union, Palling pointed out that the integration of the Eastern partners, in particular Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, with the European Union must not remain in the shadow of the refugee crisis.
Palling stressed that Estonia continues to support the implementation of the further reforms in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and the implementation of association agreements. He noted that a positive decision with regards to achieving visa waiver with Georgia is expected already this year.
In his report, Palling also touched upon the conclusion of a free trade agreement with the USA, the ensuring of energy security, and the development of the European Union single market and the digital market.
Marko Mihkelson, Andrei Novikov, Marianne Mikko, Urve Tiidus, Andres Herkel and Jaak Madison who took the floor during the debate presented the positions of the factions.
The Riigikogu passed with 56 votes in favour the Act on the Ratification of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States, of the One Part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the Other Part (62 SE), initiated by the Government, which concerns the trade relations and development cooperation between the European Union and 15 Caribbean states.
The Riigikogu passed the Resolution on the appointment of Peeter Roosma a justice of the Supreme Court as of 1 March 2016. At the secret ballot, 58 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the Resolution and seven were against. There was one abstention.
The sitting ended at 1.57 p.m.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201511171000
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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