First debate on the European Commission program for 2017 and discussion on October's European Council draft agenda were held at today’s EU General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. According to Matti Maasikas, Estonia’s special representative to the European Union institutions who represented Estonia at the meeting, the European Commission’s priorities for 2017 program are mostly the same as Estonia’s. “It is very important for us because as part of the Presidency, Estonia chairs the debates between member states on the draft proposals presented by the Commission in 2017,” Maasikas said.
"Developing Digital Single Market and quick proceeding of legal acts relevant to the field are priorities for Estonia,” Maasikas said. Estonia’s special representative to the EU institutions emphasized that the free movement of data on the EU level is extremely important. To achieve it we have to abolish unnecessary barriers, introduce co-ownership of data and implement the once-only principle in the whole Europe.
Other topics that Estonia would certainly like to add to the European Commission program according to Matti Maasikas are EU-NATO relations, including hybrid threats and cyber security, the importance of European Neighbourhood Policy and Eastern Partnership as well as cross-border transfer of companies and moving forward with the road transport initiative.
According to Matti Maasikas, this October’s European Council focuses on migration and trade. Discussion on EU-Russia relations is also on the agenda. “Our interest is to continue with the common EU policy on Russia,” Maasikas said. "There is no reason to change course.” According to Maasikas, the common policy on Russia has to align with the principles Foreign Ministers agreed on in March this year. Principles set full implementation of Minsk agreements a precondition for changing relations, while at the same time foreseeing the need to help Russia’s civil society and selectively cooperate in fields where the EU has common interests.
Talking about solving the migration crisis, Matti Maasikas emphasized that all obligations have to be taken seriously and the safety of external borders has to be guaranteed. It is also necessary that the EU-Turkey agreement is fulfilled and cooperation with third countries is effective.
European Commission also introduced the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014 - 2020 to the General Affairs Council.
General Affairs Council asked the European Commission to provide assessment of the membership application of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina presented its application to become a member of the EU on 15 February 2016
Press Spokesperson, Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU
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