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The Estonian Presidency: Charting the path ahead

28 June 2017

Presiding over the Council of the European Union for the first time is always difficult for a Member State. Amid existential qualms over the future of European cooperation, Estonia’s inaugural Presidency will be especially challenging.

EU leaders commemorated the bloc’s 60th anniversary in March. Gathering in Rome just days after the United Kingdom triggered Article 50, the remaining EU27 reflected on the future of integration, courtesy of a Commission White Paper. More integration? Less? Or business as usual? With subsequent reflection papers on defence, the budget, and globalisation, the EU27 are contemplating Europe’s path forward as Brexit negotiations get underway.

Hope of turning such reflection into reform has come from Emmanuel Macron’s victories in France’s presidential and legislative elections. The centrist outsider campaigned on an unashamedly pro-EU platform, proposing deeper integration through, for instance, a common fiscal policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel has now cautiously endorsed President Macron’s vision. The Franco-German alliance – the traditional engine of European integration – looks set to usher in change.

Meanwhile, shifts in long-established positions of the United States under the Trump Administration have heightened uncertainty surrounding Europe’s place in the world. President Trump has played hardball with NATO, pushing Europe towards further defence cooperation. He intends to pull the US from the Paris climate accord, standing at odds with European support for a multilateral approach to climate change. He is considering tariffs on European steel, risking a trade war. The EU looks increasingly unable to depend on its transatlantic ties.

Jüri Ratas, Estonia’s Prime Minister, cites the EU27's Rome Declaration as underpinning the principles for his country’s term holding the Presidency. Estonia must play a critical role in formulating Europe’s response to these challenges in the six months ahead – in ensuring the EU remains united at home and influential abroad. 

Read our briefing

Malta hands over to Estonia on 1 July. DeHavilland EU has prepared a full briefing covering everything you need to know for the next six months, including forewords from Estonian MEPs, profiles of key Estonian ministers, and details of Estonia’s policy priorities. 

The DeHavilland EU Team

Based in London and Brussels, the DeHavilland EU Team is dedicated to bringing clients informative and timely political information in a format that suits their needs.