STRASBOURG, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas defended the importance of smaller countries in the European Union (EU) and advocated digital innovation for growth in a Wednesday speech delivered at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the future of Europe.
"Allow me to express modest enthusiasm when it comes to grand institutional designs in Europe which could lead to a lesser role of smaller nations," the Estonian prime minister told members of European Parliament, who were meeting in Strasbourg for a plenary session.
Ratas equated a loss of diversity within the common institutions to reduced importance of the 28-member bloc.
"It is time to adopt proposals to complete the digital single market and enable digital transformation -- the world will not wait," Ratas said, urging MEPs to consider the importance of digital innovation, in which Estonia is often considered a leading country.
According to the Estonian government, the Baltic nation was the first country to offer a "e-residency", providing a digital ID to anyone in the world and allowing for the opening of an online business based in Europe.
The Estonian head of government underlined the importance of security in the digital realm as well. "In the world of hybrid warfare, cybercrime and fake news, security in cyberspace should come by design and should go hand in hand with emerging technologies. We need to build data integrity into systems," he said.
Speaking to migration, Juri Ratas argued that the best way of stemming flows of irregular migrants was to work with third countries, and threw his support behind a new EU-Africa alliance proposal by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The prime minister also strongly criticized internal European borders, saying "I, from the bottom of my heart, dislike borders in Europe".
In a press conference with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani after his address, Ratas spoke of the need to "strengthen the European feeling and to fight populism", arguing that the European institutions had to work harder to communicate the benefits of the European system.
The next European Parliament debate on the theme on the future of Europe will take place during the November plenary session and will feature Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.