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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Remarks by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the joint press conference with Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia, on the occasion of the visit of the College of Commissioners to the Estonian Presidency

Tallinn, 30 June 2017

Dear Jüri,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tere hommikust! For those who are not fluent in Estonian, that means "good morning".

I would like to start by thanking my good friend Jüri for his very warm welcome to Tallinn. The concert yesterday night was special, interesting, noisy, but nevertheless beautiful. And I enjoyed by far more the enthusiasm of the Estonian people gathering at the central place of this city – that was a very warm welcome. And I was told that never before so many people gathered for a unique occasion on that very place.

The week ahead is a double celebration. Firstly, it will mark the start of the first ever Estonian Presidency. This is a landmark moment for a country that has given Europe so much since it joined the European Union in 2004. A country made of courage and made of ambitions.

And secondly – and I hope he will not mind me saying this – I would like to be the first one to 'pre-wish' the Prime Minister a very happy birthday for Sunday! Palju õnne, Jüri! "Jüri" is the easiest.

I know that your team is ready. We were watching these numerous efforts you have spent over the last months and so we know that we are in safe hands for the next coming period of six months. As a former Prime Minister of another small country I can assure you that the Presidencies of smaller Member States are always the most successful.

The motto of your Presidency – "united through balance" – perfectly sums up our task ahead. I agree with Jüri who has said that we do not just need to speak as one, but also act as one – unity shows its true value in action.

I should not say it, but I have to say it: I still do not have a smartphone. So I could not become Prime Minister in Estonia – this would be totally impossible. Jüri knows that, which is why he sent me like in the 19th century a postcard inviting me to Tallinn. But even without being a techie, I know that our future is digital. Digital is the DNA of your country and it needs to become part of the European DNA. We are counting on your leadership, on your e-expertise to make progress. 

Under the guidance of the Estonian Vice-President of the Commission, Andrus Ansip, we have made some real progress towards completing the Digital Single Market. We have put forward 35 proposals since November 2014. And I am delighted that together with the upcoming Bulgarian and Austrian Presidencies, Estonia has set the goal to reach agreement on all of those by the end of next year.

Reaching that agreement is important if we want to see high-speed internet rolled out across the European Union or see 5G be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU Member State by 2020 – like it will be in Tallinn by next year.

Successful deployment of 5G could bring EUR 146 billion worth benefits a year and is likely to create 2.4 million jobs in the European Union. So we have to do it. That is why we are making sure that we are investing in our digital future, both through the Capital Markets Union and the so-called Juncker-Plan which has now mobilised more than EUR 200 billion of investment. But we must still do more and I am delighted that one of our first priorities will be to secure an agreement on extending the Fund, so it can unlock at least half a trillion euro by 2020.

But the success of the Digital Single Market will also depend on the confidence of Europeans. That is why I hope we can learn from your experience on cybersecurity. The scale of the risks is significant – by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices. And just last year there were 4,000 attacks per day, a 300% increase compared to the year before.

With that in mind, we will renew the EU's Cybersecurity Strategy with targeted actions by September.

I know I can count on your Presidency to make progress in making the digital sphere and Europe more generally a safe and secure place for people.

Finding agreement on the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and the Entry/Exit System by the end of the year will therefore be another important step towards doing that.

Equally, the reform of the Common European Asylum System has taken too long to come to fruition and I hope that the "unity in balance" can become the reality on this issue over the course of the next six months.

I look forward, dear Jüri, to working with you in the next six months. It will be the perfect way to move into 2018 – the 100th anniversary of this great European country.

Thank you!


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