Digital North centre stage at high-level summit

" - Photo:Mathias Dyb Ulstein/Mission of Norway to the EU
State Secretary Paul Chaffey spoke about the Nordic countries' cooperation with the Baltic states on digitalisation in Brussels on December 14th.

Norwegian State Secretary Paul Chaffey presented the Nordic-Baltic digital cooperation when speaking at the conference “A Digital Presidency”, that marked the end of the Estonian Presidency of the European Council.

– The Nordic countries hold a strong position in terms of digitalisation. For Norway, it was important to include the Baltic countries as part of our digital cooperation, said Chaffey during the opening of the conference “A Digital Presidency. Takeaways from Estonia’s programme for a Digital Europe” in Brussels 14 December 2017.

Estonia’s Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, and Vice-President of the European Commission, Andrus Ansip, also gave opening speeches at the conference. The conference was co-hosted by Estonia and CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies). It was partially sponsored by Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants.

After the opening speeches, there were several panel debates on topics such as free movement of data, eGovernment, eCommerce, Trust and Security and Smart Economy.

 

Nordic-Baltic digitalisation

Digitalisation has been one of the focus areas for Estonia during its presidency this fall. Norway has cooperated closely with Estonia, and has among other things pledged to follow up on the Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment from October 6.

Norway has led the way on digitalisation during its presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. At the Digital North-conference in Oslo in April 2017, the Nordic-Baltic countries adopted a common declaration. The declaration puts forward goals to strengthen the ability for digital transformation of our government and societies, strengthen the competitiveness of our enterprises and enhance the digital single market in the Nordic-Baltic region.

– We want to pave the way for residents of the Nordic and Baltic countries to use their own secure login credentials regardless of where they are, for example when moving between the countries. Collaboration on how to boost the development of 5G infrastructure in the region is another example of the work being done within the Digital North, including the Baltic states, said Chaffey.

He also pointed out that the first meeting of the newly established Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation (MR Digital) took place in Oslo on 8 December 2017. Ministers in charge of digitalisation policies agreed to speed up the implementation of cross-border public services based on eID.

 

Norwegian input on digitalisation

The top four spots in the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) are held by Nordic countries. In the recently published eGovernment Benchmark Study, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia are among the top five most advanced countries. This gives the Nordic and Baltic countries a considerable potential to lead the way in the digital development of Europe.

State Secretary Paul Chaffey met several EU representatives in Brussels on 13 December. He handed over Norway’s input to the European Commission’s third package to promote data-driven innovation in Europe. Norway makes a case for more and new types of public data, including data financed by the public sector, to be made available to the commercial sector, researchers and civil society.
– Our main goals for the digital society are to digitalise and modernise the public sector, and to boost innovation and growth, but also to ensure digital inclusion of the whole population. It is finally important for me to say that supporting the goals of the EU Strategy for the Digital Single Market and helping to realise it, is also an important task for us in the Nordic-Baltic region, said Chaffey.