All 28 EU member states plus the four EFTA countries gathered in Estonia capital to agree deal to work together to drive digital-government policy
Caroline Nokes, the cabinet minister with responsibility for the UK’s Government Digital Service, joined 31 of her peers in Tallinn on Friday Credit: PA
The UK’s minister for government resilience and efficiency Caroline Nokes was among leaders from 32 European countries to sign the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment on Friday.
The document commits all signatory nations to collectively driving digital transformation “at national, regional, and local levels”, as well as in EU institutions, where applicable. All 28 current member states signed the declaration, alongside the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
The declaration covers the five-year period from now until 2022. During that time, all countries have agreed to work to progress policy along six “action lines”.
- Digital by default, inclusiveness and accessibility
As part of this initiative, the 32 nations have pledged to give citizens the option to interact digitally with providers of public services. The countries have also vowed to try and make such engagements more seamless and do away with unnecessary interactions, while taking steps to improve citizens’ digital skills and make services more accessible.
- Once only
This action line will see countries and the EU work to reuse data and platforms and ensure that citizens and businesses are able to limit their interactions with local, regional, or European government to a single instance in as many cases as possible.
- Trustworthiness and security
In this area, signatories are pledging to promote the implementation of electronic identification regulation. Driving uptake of trust and security measures for citizens’ online transactions – with both government and commercial enterprises – is also on the agenda.
- Openness and transparency
This action line will see countries working to roll out schemes that permit citizens to access and manage their data digitally. This will entail increasing “the availability and quality of open government data”, as well as implementing measures to ensure public records are effectively preserved.
- Interoperability by default
Here, nations will drive the use of open standards and open-source technology. The aim will be to “make ICT solutions owned by or developed for the public administrations more readily available for reuse in private sector and civil society”.
- Horizontal enabling policy steps
This wide-ranging action line includes a commitment to “take steps to increase the digital leadership skills among top civil and public servants and digital skills more widely within the public administration at all levels”. Other commitments include a pledge to “widen and deepen the use of data and analytics”, and promote the sharing of best practice and successful use cases among government entities. The 32 nations have also committed to modernise procurement processes, invest in experimental projects, and ensure funding for digital-transformation projects is “adequate and timely”.
Urve Palo, minister of entrepreneurship and IT for Estonia – the current holder of the EU presidency – said: “This marks a new political commitment at EU level on significant priorities towards ensuring high quality, user-centric digital public services for citizens, and seamless cross-border public services for businesses.”