Fico: I Hope Estonian EU Presidency Will be Flexible Enough

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Fico meets his Estonian counterpart Ratas (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 22 (TASR) – The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU will be highly interested in preserving the unity of the Union, which is incredibly important for its future; but this can be achieved in other ways than by blindly obeying commands and respecting the stronger ones, said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) following his meeting with his Estonian counterpart Juri Ratas on Monday.

Fico said this in connection with his perception of the Estonian presidency’s motto, ‘Unity through Balance’. Estonia will take over the presidency as of July 1 instead of Great Britain, which is set to quit the EU.

“Under the term ‘balance’ I understand that each EU-member state must have a right to contribute to this unity with its own opinions, its own proposals, and so I view this Estonian motto as one speaking about more respect among EU states,” said the Slovak prime minister.

Fico expects the Estonian presidency to be marked by discussions on how the Union should look. He pointed to issues that will be tabled by the current Maltese presidency, such as migration and negotiations with Great Britain.

The Slovak prime minister finds it important for Brussels to respect national issues that are very important to individual member states from the viewpoint of the European agenda. In Slovakia, for example, the issue of how to approach the EU average in terms of living standards dominates.

Fico hopes that the Estonian presidency will have an adequate amount of flexibility so that it will be able to cope with unexpected issues. He hopes that countries such as Estonia and Slovakia, which aren’t among the largest, will bring more respect and mutual understanding to the EU. “When we have this in the EU, I think there will be more unity in the EU,” stressed Fico, who offered his Estonian counterpart a helping hand in the form of sharing Slovakia’s experience from its own presidency in the second half of last year.

The two prime ministers discussed the priorities of the Estonian presidency. During this, Estonia wants to focus on four areas: an open innovative European economy, the security and protection of the EU, the digital agenda and informatisation, and inclusive and sustainable growth.

The Estonian prime minister is interested in learning a great deal from Slovakia’s experience. He praised bilateral relations and stressed that he sees Slovakia as a partner in important issues, such as digitisation and informatisation. “The presidency will take place at the time when Estonia will celebrate its 100th birthday, so we’re preparing for this role with a high level of responsibility and seriousness,” stated the Estonian prime minister.

“The EU has been built on four big freedoms that are the core of the whole process. We’re fighting for a fifth one – freedom of data,” emphasised the Estonian prime minister, who invited Fico to a summit on the digital agenda slated for September 29.