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Undersecretary Bambus: Principle of Free Movement is Basis for Development of Baltic Sea Region and Whole European Union

08.03.2013

No 84-E

While speaking at the Nordic Council of Ministers’ conference on migration today, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs Lauri Bambus noted that the European Union’s principles of free movement have given a significant push to the development of the Baltic Sea region and the rise of its competitiveness.

Undersecretary Lauri Bambus stated that the well-functioning free movement of people, capital, goods, and services in the European Union has given us a great opportunity to engage in close co-operation in various sectors on the regional level as well as in the wider EU. “The free and unhindered movement of people is a value that is highly valued all over the European Union, since it significantly simplifies people’s opportunities to travel, work abroad, study, and create business contacts,” he said.

The Baltic Sea region has become one of the most successful and dynamically developing regions in the European Union and the whole world. “The well-established principle of a common market and a stable economic environment have created a foundation for the economic development of the whole region and facilitated investments being made in these countries,” stated Bambus. The undersecretary added that the interest of Estonia and the other Baltic Sea region states is to adhere to and further develop the principles of free movement.

Addressing matters related to the Schengen visa space, Undersecretary Bambus mentioned the opportunities that the Schengen zone provides not only to citizens of member states, but also to travellers and entrepreneurs from third countries. “While ten years ago obtaining a visa to visit Estonia was very complicated in some countries, today, thanks to the visa representation agreements we have concluded with other countries in the Schengen system, it is possible to apply for a visa to visit Estonia in 92 places all over the world,” Bambus explained. “The Schengen zone has made it easier for people living outside the European Union to travel as well as create business and economic ties in Europe,” he added.

The creation and good functioning of the Schengen space have also helped increase security in general. “Close communication between countries and the use of modern technology in Schengen co-operation have prevented very many unwanted individuals, who may have threatened our safety and well-being, from entering the Schengen space,” Bambus emphasised.

While a united Europe offers many opportunities, in his speech Bambus also addressed the threats that we all must take into consideration. “We have noticed that when a country’s economic indicators fall and unemployment rises, people go abroad to seek opportunities for a better life,” said the undersecretary. “In Estonia, as well, there is concern over young people and skilled workers leaving, and the issue of how to bring these people home again is being addressed,” he added.

The Foreign Ministry undersecretary also emphasised that in addition to the developments taking place in Europe itself, we must also face the events taking place in the world and how they may directly or indirectly affect us. “For example, the events of the Arab Spring, which started in spring of 2011, have brought tremendous pressure onto the European Union’s external borders in the form of refugees and immigrants from those countries,” Bambus noted. “The European Union must work together to solve problems like this as well,” he added.

In conclusion, the undersecretary noted that the challenges standing before the European Union member states are easier to resolve together than alone. “European Union co-operation is an invaluable thing, which we must preserve and intensify,” Bambus said in the conclusion of his speech.

The conference “Migration and Demographic Challenges in the Nordic-Baltic Region”, organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Swedish Embassy, is taking place from 7-8 March in Tallinn. Additional information: http://www.norden.ee/et/regionaalne-koostoo/rahvastiku-areng

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