Today, Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas briefed the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) meeting in Brussels on Estonia’s plans and objectives during the current Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Maasikas said close cooperation with local and regional local governments is necessary as their decisions and specific actions have the most direct effect on economic growth and creation of new jobs. “Local governments are the ones that have the possibility of making life better for all of us through engagement with local people, using good governance practices and long-range development plans for this purpose,” said Maasikas.
The main focus for all of Estonia’s priorities is on how people’s everyday lives will be affected: a simple and predictable business environment, equal opportunities on the job market and finding the right work-life balance; security, which has become ever more important, the need to bring the migration crisis under control and deal with asylum system reform and strengthening border controls, and a focus also on Eastern Partners and bringing them closer to the EU fold. Today’s CoR discussion provided strong support for closer cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partners and Estonia was encouraged to lead the way in this area.
The CoR was one of the institutions Estonia consulted as it prepared to hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Cooperation with the CoR is centred on the use digital solutions to modernize the public sector on the local and regional level and improve welfare systems in the jurisdiction of local governments. The CoR’s opinions help Estonia to carry out its objectives in finding digital solutions for its priorities of an open economy, a safe and secure Europe, and a digital and inclusive Europe.
Supported by the other Member States, the Estonian Presidency strives to reach compromise satisfactory to all sides on issues that affect the living environment, such as living and working conditions for posted workers, the rights of railway passengers, safe flight connections, modernizing tax systems, simplifying business rules and increasing the share of renewable energy. “All these fields will receive attention from Estonia, and we hope to achieve good results,” said Maasikas. He said Estonia also wishes to initiate discussion for simplifying research and innovation cooperation. Here, use of new technology and digital solutions will simplify the lives and activities of people.
The Committee of the Regions, established in 1994 by the Treaty on European Union, is an advisory political body made up of locally and regionally elected representatives. The CoR represents the interests of the European Union’s regional and city governments and submits opinions to the Council of the EU and the European Commission. To serve the general interests of the European Union, the CoR’s 350 members are independent in performing their duties.
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