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Estonia outlines its EU presidency digital priorities

Matteo Natalucci Published 25 August 2017

Estonia urges a new approach to data use fit for the digital era

As of July 2017, Estonia began its first presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months until December.

It has now set out how it plans to promote EU digitalisation as one of the priorities of its presidency.

Estonian ministry of economic affairs and communications has drafted a discussion document "Estonian Vision Paper on the Free Movement of Data - the Fifth Freedom of the European Union" which outlines the Estonian presidency’s key digital ambitions and priorities . 

The three focus points are:

- The removal of any unjustified data localisation requirements for non-personal data to remove digital borders and enable cross-border business.

- Promoting cross-border exchange of public administration data on the basis of the once-only principle to serve citizens and business by cutting red tape.

- Creating clear rules on data access and portability to remove legal uncertainty and to promote competition and innovation.

The paper said, "Free Movement of Data as the high-level political goal (the fifth EU freedom) to promote data exchange between governments and its agencies for better decision-making, efficient supervision and transparency in the public sector and providing legal clarity on the use and re use of non-personal data and in the private sector"

The paper supports the adoption of a “digital-by-default” strategy in the public sector (all services being provided digitally only). It was estimated that at the EU level this transformation could result in annual saving of around €10bn. For instance, the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement across the EU could generate savings of up to €2.3bn.

Siim Sikkut, the government CIO of Estonia said, "With the vision paper, Estonia wishes to start a debate on the better and wider use of data in the EU that will be an important horizontal topic throughout the 6 months Estonia holds the position of the presidency. No sector, organisation or service can function without data. Therefore, we need to find ways to unlock it from the different silos it is currently in to reap the maximum potential of data"



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