Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas at a meeting with his Finnish colleague Juha Sipila held on Monday mainly discussed issues concerning the European Union, reports LETA/BNS.

Topics on the agenda of a meeting held ahead of the joint sitting of the Estonian and Finnish governments in celebration of the 100th anniversary of both countries included the joint interests of the two countries in the European Union, government spokespeople said.

The main topic was the European Union 2021-2017 budget plan proposal submitted by the European Commission last week.

Ratas admitted that long and difficult negotiations will lie ahead as the European Commission wishes to maintain the budget at the current magnitude or even larger to realized new joint activities, even though the United Kingdom, which had been a large payer, will not be contributing to the joint wallet anymore. “A strong, stable and forward-looking European Union that wishes to improve people’s standard of living is important for Estonia. This means that we want more, not less of Europe and we are also prepared to contribute to it ourselves,” Ratas said in a press release.

Ratas and Sipila also touched upon infrastructure, migration and security, that is topics to be discussed at the EU-Western Balkans Summit to be held in Sofia, Bulgaria from May 16 to 17. A leaders’ dinner, a tradition that began during the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union in Tallinn, will be held on the evening of May 16, during which the leaders of the EU will this time focus on innovation, research and digital cooperation.

Ratas also introduced to Sipila the preparations for a digital summit planned for the fall. The topics of this summit include global data economy and artificial intelligence and their possible application in e-governance, economy and defense. “While the Finns have foremost been able to learn from Estonia about data exchange solutions, we in turn could learn from their experience concerning the implementation of artificial intelligence. Finland is very actively preparing for the use of artificial intelligence in the public sector,” Ratas said.

A joint session of the Estonian and Finnish governments is to start at 2 p.m. on Monday at the Estonian parliament’s conference center in celebration of the 100th anniversary of both countries. Estonia-Finland transport connections, cooperation in the digital and cultural fields as well as common interests in the European Union will be discussed at the sitting.

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