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Kaljulaid in Italy: European economic recovery must lead to a digital and green revolution

Kaljulaid in Italy: European economic recovery must lead to a digital and green revolution
President Kaljulaid and the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella.
© Office of the President of Italy


President Kersti Kaljulaid met today in Rome with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy. The head of state discussed bilateral relations, recovery plans for the European economy and migration and digitalisation issues with her Italian colleagues.

In early 2021, Estonia and Italy will be marking the centenary of their diplomatic relations. As such, one of the central themes of both meetings today was the relationship between the two countries.

“Italy is a valued partner to Estonia in the European Union and in many international organisations,” said President Kaljulaid. “We trust their knowledge and information about what’s happening on the Mediterranean and to the south of Europe, and they’re grateful to us for our perspective on what’s happening in our region.” The head of state also thanked the Italian leaders for their contribution to the security of Estonia and the Baltic States.

Another key topic discussed during the meetings was the impact of the coronavirus crisis and issues related to economic recovery. “We’re all going to have to work together and put in an enormous effort,” President Kaljulaid said after the meetings. “Even when the vaccine reaches people and we get the virus under control, all of us in the European Union will have to do everything we can to support our economies as effectively as possible. To that end, we need to quickly move ahead with the budget for the EU’s next funding period and the European recovery plan. And it’s just as important that in stimulating our economies it’s not simply about seeding them with money, but providing new impetus for a digital and green revolution.”

In her discussions with Prime Minister Conte, President Kaljulaid also touched on bilateral cooperation in the fields of the e-state and digitalisation. “For there to be a real digital revolution in society, the groundwork needs to be laid and the legal space created throughout Europe that promotes it, along with digital IDs supported by the state,” she said. “Estonia’s always happy to share its experience on those fronts.” President Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Conte also discussed the latest developments in the EU’s Eastern Partnership states and in the Mediterranean region. They agreed that the European Union must remain resolute in these matters and that the steps it takes must be guided by its shared values.

The issue of migration was discussed at length by Presidents Kaljulaid and Mattarella. The Estonian head of state said that the key to relieving migration pressure is to deal first and foremost with its root causes. “The pandemic is very clearly increasing migration pressure, since African economies have also found themselves in a difficult situation, and the number of people who have lost their jobs and motivation is on the rise,” President Kaljulaid said. “We have to do all we can to ensure that opportunities and work remain for people in the places they come from. That’s the only way we can alleviate pressure to migrate.”

The heads of state also talked at length about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the European economy and ways of making its recovery as effective as possible. “There are two aspects at play here,” President Kaljulaid explained. “First, we need to stand together and work together to ensure that those hardest hit by the crisis can rely on their partners. And secondly, this is the best opportunity we’ve had in the last decade to really shake things up in the European economy and labour market. Salaries have been kept low in wealthier economies for decades now, with profit being far too often redistributed instead through taxes, leaving people trapped in salary poverty and overly dependent on benefits and aid. It’s a catch-22 situation, a cycle we need to break out of, and the crisis we’re living through at the moment offers a unique chance for us to do just that. It’s what the European Union and its support measures should be aiming for.”

The President of the Republic is on a two-day working visit to Italy. She will be returning to Estonia tomorrow.

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