Ten years ago today, Estonia became a member state of the European Union. During this period, the European Union has become a natural part of the everyday lives of our country and its citizens, our economy and security.
The right of free movement across Europe is taken for granted. The right to study, work or live in another European country has become our inalienable right. Knowledge and cultural exchange is more intensive than ever before.
Today, in the spring of 2014, we can see that the European Union also means greater security. Being a member of the EU and NATO is the ultimate guarantee of our national security, sovereignty and prosperity.
There is no doubt that the European Union has facilitated the increase of our well-being. Over the past decade, Estonia’s economic growth has clearly exceeded the EU average. While Estonia’s GDP at purchasing power parity constituted only 55% of the EU average in 2003, in 2012 this indicator was 71%.
The incomes of the Estonian population have also grown – in the last ten years real wages have increased by more than 40%. The EU market with its 500 million consumers is our domestic market. As much as 70% of Estonia’s export is to other European countries.
The common values of the European Union are based on cooperation, responsibility and solidarity. All decisions that affect our common lives and relations with third countries are made together. We can firmly state that Estonia has a stronger-than-ever voice in the matters of the EU and the world. We are reliable and trustworthy, and our opinion is taken into account.
Estonia’s increased capacity increases our responsibility to actively shape the future of the European Union. Estonians feel that they are fully-fledged Europeans but our goal is also to connect Europe physically – to develop the energy, transport and communication solutions together with the digital internal market.
This is our common responsibility. On 25 May, we will elect new members to the European Parliament. Let us use this opportunity to participate in the decision-making process of the European Union and to make our common home even better.
10 years in the European Union - we have made Estonia bigger together!