This morning, all member states of the European Union, together with the European Free Trade Association countries Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland signed the Tallinn e-Government Declaration. In the Tallinn Declaration, the common goals for e-government development over the next five years have been agreed on, providing direction for both national and pan-European innovation.
"For Estonians, e-government has become quite commonplace and we are used to doing things online. However, in Europe as a whole, e-governance is not as common 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 the other European countries," said Urve Palo, Estonian Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology.
"For other European countries, however, the Tallinn Declaration brings 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. For example, I could sign documents with my Estonian card and my neighbour with their state document. Think about how much time it would save," added Palo.
"The Tallinn Declaration will also provide guidelines for further cooperation in Europe. First and foremost, we do not want countries to ask citizens and businesses for the same data many times over. 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. However, we should always keep in mind that personal data belongs exclusively to the citizen and that countries can only share it when the person in question has explicitly agreed to it," added Palo.
"Looking back, the previous e-government declaration was signed in Malmö in 2009. 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," said Palo.
The Tallinn Declaration was signed under the auspices of the Ministerial e-Government Conference 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.
Conference speakers and panellists analyse 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, Aivar Jaeski, NATO Special Colonel, and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. Different methods of artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality allow collecting real-time data on social processes, which previously could only be analysed after the fact.
Read the full text of the declaration.