European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker with Estonia's prime minister Jüri Ratas on 30 June
Photo: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency
Estonia assumes EU Council presidency
Estonia assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union on Saturday, which it will hold for six months until 31 December 2017, at which time it will pass the baton over to Bulgaria.
It marks the first time the Baltic country has held the presidency, and it’s also the start of a new trio in which three member states--in this case, Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria--are charged to work together in crafting an agenda to achieve long-term goals which will be addressed by the Council over the next 18 months.
Estonia, with a population of around 1.3 million, declared its autonomy in 1917--meaning 2017 also marks its centenary. Throughout the rest of the year, Estonia will be celebrating with several extra cultural offerings of its own, while events around the country will take place in many member states, including Luxembourg (see below).
Here’s a quick look at the main focal points set out by Estonia, as well as what’s in store in Luxembourg during the presidency.
Making digital Europe a priority
A push for digital Europe is one of the four priorities during Estonia’s presidency. It hopes to advance the digital single market and continuing to develop cross-border digital solutions, and it seems to have had a head start: Estonia made waves in June when it announced it would be opening of the world’s first “digital embassy” in Luxembourg and its plans to store associated data at the Betzdorf data centre.
The other three priorities during the Estonian presidency are an open, innovative European economy, including the simplification of regulations as well as more opportunities for entrepreneurs; a safe and secure Europe, with the hopes of making the financing of terrorism more difficult and increased cooperation between police and security forces of member states; and finally an inclusive and sustainable Europe, which will re-examine labour mobility while, once again, aiming to harness technology to contribute in environmental preservation.
Estonian culture in Luxembourg
While most of the regional cultural agenda will take place in Brussels, there are a few opportunities for residents of Luxembourg to celebrate Estonia throughout the second half of 2017.
Already on 15 July as part of the MeYouZik festival, the three-member band Trad.Attack!, blending folk and modern sounds, will take to the stage.
Estonia is the main focus of this year’s CinEast Film Festival, which celebrates central and eastern European cinema and film makers. More information will be forthcoming, but already an Estonian evening is planned for 12 October at Neimënster, as well as CinEast’s 10th birthday party at Rotondes on 14 October, which welcomes Estonian photographer Birgit Püve and musical group Svjata Vatra.
For more information, follow the Estonian presidency on its website or via the @EU2017EE handle on Twitter and Facebook.