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Estonia and Finland sign long-awaited treaty on exchange of data

Lauri Läänemets with Sirpa Paatero in Helsinki, Wednesday, September 21 2022.
Lauri Läänemets with Sirpa Paatero in Helsinki, Wednesday, September 21 2022. Source: Ministry of the Interior

A deal inked, or better still digitally-signed, between Estonia and Finland will pave the way to much more effective data on migration between the two countries, the interior ministry says.

Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) and Sirpa Paatero, Finland's Minister of Local Government, signed a long-negotiated treaty in Helsinki Wednesday, which will help with data exchange regarding, for instance, the over 50,000 Estonian citizens resident in that country.

Läänemets said: "This knowledge will not reach us immediately tomorrow, but from now we can start to further enhance the already-functioning data exchange between the population registers of the two countries. We hope to create a new data exchange within a couple of years."

Minister Paatero called the agreement: "An important milestone in deepening the cross-border digital cooperation between our nations, which lays the foundation for even better public services in both countries."

Even given the EU common principles, Estonia and Finland are moving, in tandem, ahead even of this curve, in so doing setting a good example to many other member states.

"The longer-term and substantive goal of the cooperation project is that people can have access to residence-based services and subsidies without having to orientate in a useless bureaucratic maze," Läänemets went on, via an interior ministry press release.

Many subsidies and vital services are related to an individual's permanent residence, meaning in order to ensure the availability of services to people living in either country, that individual cannot simultaneously reside on both sides of the Gulf of Finland.

In the future, data exchange for citizens will also include information on, for instance, family events, Läänemets noted.

Estonia and Finland currently also exchange data under the terms of an agreement concluded back in 2005, though this contract is limited only to residence data.

The complete transfer of the data exchange to the X-Road, Estonia's flagship e-state platform, will mean that data will be exchanged electronically through a secure data exchange platform, instead of transferring files.

In the future, information will also be exchanged between the two countries regarding foreign citizens who move between the two countries.

Digital prescriptions have been subject to reciprocal agreement since 2020.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Ministry of the Interior

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