All EU member states, along with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland on Friday signed the Tallinn Declaration on e-Government, which establishes common goals for the development of e-government over the next five years.
"For Estonians, e-government has become quite commonplace, and we are used to doing things online," Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo (SDE) was quoted by spokespeople as saying. "However, in Europe as a whole, e-governance is not as prevalent as it is for us.
"The Tallinn Declaration does not translate into innovation for Estonia, as we have already complied with the guidelines agreed upon today with other European countries," the minister noted. "For other European countries, however, the Tallinn Declaration will bring about significant changes. We came to a common understanding that all European countries need to create opportunities for their citizens and enterprises to use state services digitally and without the need to leave their homes. The deployment of ID cards across Europe is another aim, in order for digital signatures to be provided internationally — me with my Estonian card and my neighbor with their state document. Think about how much time this would save."
According to Palo, the Tallinn Declaration will also provide guidelines on how to increase cooperation within Europe. "First and foremost, we do not want countries to ask citizens and businesses the same data any times over," she offered as an example. "If I have already registered my car in Estonia, it would be wise if I did not have to redo it, for example, when moving to Belgium. Governments could exchange this data automatically."
She noted, however, that it must be kept in mind that one's personal data belongs exclusively to the citizen, and that countries can only share such data when the person in question has provided explicit permission for doing so.
"Looking back, the previous e-government declaration was signed in Malmö in 2009," Palo recalled. "It is clear that the world has changed significantly in the meantime. People's security issues are no longer solely a matter of physical safety, as cybersecurity has become at least as important. With the Tallinn Declaration, we collectively agreed that the principles of security and privacy must be in line with the highest standards when developing state e-services."
Tallinn Declaration was signed under the auspices of the ministerial conference on e-government where European digital ministers, business people, e-government experts and civil society representatives met to discuss the future technologies of e-government and share existing user experience across countries. Among the e-government technologies, the conference focused on artificial intelligence, virtual reality and solutions against fake news, already important in the day-to-day work of governments and even more important in the future, as experts predict, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said.
Conference speakers and panelists are to analyze how future technologies can make the decision-making process of politicians more data-based. Among the speakers are Marco Pancin, one of Google's top executives, Dominic Eskofier, head of the European Virtual Reality Association, former NATO Col. Aivar Jaeski, and Prime Minister Juri Ratas.
Editor: Aili Vahtla