Reede, 24 Märts 2017 18:44
Laas Leivat - Estonian Life No. 12 2017
Starting on July 1 of this year and ending on December 31st, Estonia will be holding the presidency of the European Union Council. It's a position that rotates every six months among the member states of the EU.
Malta precedes Estonia and Bulgaria follows. A trio of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria will co-ordinate priorities so that important topics remain on the Council agenda thus ensuring continuity as states pass the duties on to the next member.
Estonian will be expected to discharge leadership duties while assuming a delicate diplomatic stance. Estona will have to take into account the priorities of all member states and yet remain painfully neutral.
The European Commision is tasked with initiating new legislation. The Council, representing the governments of the members states is the forum for negotiating and adopting new legislation as is the EU parliament which represents the citizens of the EU.
Cabinet ministers from member states meet in the Council to adopt dedcisions which are binding for the members. Sessions discussing specific issues are chaired by the relevant minister of the country holding the presidency.
Common decisions are developed at meetings of representatives of all member states and these sessions are again chaired and steered towards unified positions by specialists of the country holding the presidency. It's anticipated that Estonia will be responsible for leading the work of some 200 working parties, both in Tallinn as well as Brussels. Anticipated in Tallinn alone will be some 200 events related to the presidency, 20 high level meetings, visits and conferences. This will provide opportunities to bring attention to themes that are important for Estonia. Topics such as tourism, information technology, culture, education, housing and research can be introduced during these events.
During its term as Council president, Estonia will take the lead in developing agendas for meetings, chairing sessions and reaching common positions through the debates. The presidency will also represent the Council in presenting and advocating Council decisions in dealings with the European Commission and Parliament.
Estonia in holding the presidency will also be responsible for handling crises that impact on a majority of members. Most recent problems have been mass immigration, UK's Brexit decision and the Paris terrorist attack.
In working with an agenda emphasizing continuity of themes, the majority of issues will be passed on at the rotation. But each state assuming the presidency may empasize issues which need extra attention. Although a programme is developed shortly before a rotation, the Estonian EU policy can be a referenced at the beginning. Estonia's focus has been the single and digital markets, the energy union, the enhanced integration of the Eastern European members into Europe, the promotion of e-solutions and information society in EU policy areas.
Already in 2012 the Estonian Government formed a commission tasked with the responsibility for the preparations in assuming the Presidency. By 2014 the Action Plan, Personnel Strategy and Training Plan were completed and a budget was apoproved thereafter.
While Estonia's human and other resources for the assignment are miniscule compared to larger EU members, Estonia is determined to complete is term just as successfully as the most polished and internationally adept member state of the EU.Laas Leivat