The Tallinn Declaration promises a digital future for Europeans

By signing the Tallinn Declaration, all member states of the European Union agree on common goals for e-government development over the next five years, providing direction for both national and pan-European innovation.

While Estonia holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2017, the country is pushing a digital agenda. On 6 October, all member states of the EU, together with the European Free Trade Association countries Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, signed the Tallinn e-government declaration in the Estonian capital.

“For Estonians, e-government has become quite commonplace and we are used to doing things online,” Urve Palo, the Estonian minister for entrepreneurship and information technology, said. “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 with the other European countries.”

Better digital accessibility

According to Palo, the declaration will provide guidelines on how to cooperate more 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,” she pointed out. “Governments could exchange this data automatically. We should always keep in mind though that personal data belongs exclusively to the citizen and that countries can only share it when the person in question has expressed it explicitly.”

In the declaration, the signatories promise to provide their citizens and businesses “with the option to interact digitally with public administrations, if they choose to”; “take steps to reduce the need for citizens and businesses to unnecessarily interact with public administrations”; and to “ensure better digital accessibility of public services and information for all citizens and businesses, including by improving the accessibility of public administration websites and mobile apps”.

Most government services can be accessed online via a secure ID card.

The countries also promise to enable the private sector to make use of the national electronic ID schemes and trust services in securing the delivery of their digital services, where beneficial to the citizen; and to make use of available funding to digitise all necessary key data and implement data exchange services between administrations for applying once only on both national and/or cross-border levels.

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The cover image is illustrative (Shutterstock).

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About the author: Estonian World

Estonian World is a global independent online magazine, founded in London in 2012 and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. The magazine has editorial representations in London, New York, Toronto and Tallinn, and contributors all over the world, on every continent. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.