Meeting between Prime Minister Ratas and British Prime Minister Theresa May focuses on defence cooperation and digital matters

Jul 19
Created: 19 July 2017

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and British Prime Minister Theresa May discussed EU-NATO defence cooperation, which is one of the priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of this year. According to Prime Minister Ratas, the UK is and will continue to be an important ally of Estonia, the EU and NATO in ensuring security and the fight against terrorism.

“Enhanced cooperation between the EU and NATO is proof of Europe’s unity and strengthens trans-Atlantic relations,” said Prime Minister Ratas. “The presence of our allies in the Baltic countries and Poland is essential to guarantee our security, and the UK has contributed significantly to that. The defence forces of Estonia and the UK cooperate very closely and actively in this area.”

Prime Minister Ratas presented the priorities of the Estonian Presidency in promoting digital matters in the EU and the objectives of the Tallinn digital summit scheduled for 29 September.

“The summit will discuss what Europe should do to be a world leader economically, industrially and in creating connections, as well as in the provision of public services and in ensuring the security of the information society. I would like to invite Prime Minister May to attend the Summit in Tallinn. The UK is a leader in deploying information technology in the public sector and an important centre for start-ups,” explained Prime Minister Ratas.

Besides the area of defence, cooperation between Estonia and the UK has recently gained momentum in the areas of e-governance, information technology and cyber defence. The UK is interested, for instance, in the Estonia X-Road solution, the Estonian state portal and the Estonian catalogue of public sector information systems (RIHA).

The meeting also touched upon the migration crisis and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Estonia and the UK have similar positions on the migration crisis: it is crucial to address the root causes of migration, to ensure effective control of external borders and support border countries.

The second round of Brexit talks began in Brussels yesterday. The talks will run until Thursday. The talks, led by the European Commission, will focus on citizens’ rights, financial agreement and other matters concerning the work of the EU institutions and agencies.

“It is important to keep calm and look for balanced solutions. The UK’s leaving the EU will affect the everyday lives of many European citizens and companies. Estonia’s main objective, as the holder of the Presidency, is to maintain the unity of the 27 Member States and to focus on the everyday running of the EU,” said Prime Minister Ratas.

Prime Minister Ratas will meet this afternoon with representatives of the Estonian community in London. About 40 Estonian companies are operating in London and the number of Estonians studying or working in the UK is increasing. The estimated number of Estonian nationals in the UK is between 10,000 and 15,000, while London is home to 3,000-5,000 of them.

Prime Minister Ratas has met nearly all his European counterparts to present Estonia’s plans for the Presidency. The meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May was his penultimate. The last will be a working visit to Croatia at the end of July.