Estonia is a small, but efficient country with stable economy, low public debt and various liberties.
One of the so-called founding fathers of Estonia, Jakob Hurt, declared already in 1870 that we cannot become great in size, so we must become great in spirit.
PISA 2012 study shows, that Estonian 15-years old primary school pupils are among the best in the world and top of Europe. In Europe, our students share first and second place with Finland in nature studies. They are ranked 11th in reading and mathematics in the world.
Good education helps Estonians be more innovative.
For example, we have a decade-long experience in using digital signatures. Digital signatures enable electronic voting, banking, declaring taxes and doing contracts - without leaving office or home.
I think that we should do our utmost to bring digital signatures into widespread use across Europe. We have estimated that we are saving some 2% of our annual GDP worth of time in Estonia because of digital signatures – one working week for each person. Imagine what we could do with one extra week or 2% of GDP in Europe!
We should also create a framework of reuse and sharing of data provided between public authorities in the EU.
Since 2007, there has been a rule in Estonia, that citizens may be required to submit their data to public authorities on just one occasion. With the subject's consent, the authorities must share and reuse the data if they need it for delivering other services.
For example, people can declare their taxes in just a few minutes: the declarations are prefilled with data, which they have already submitted through different e-services. The data can be reused only to offer services and their use by public authorities can be verified and challenged by the person herself over the internet.
If a Spanish or a German company would like to do business in Estonia, they should not be asked to provide a certificate on tax arrears from their own tax authorities to be presented to public agencies in Estonia. As their home government already has this information, we should instead have common EU-wide data exchange platforms – or at least administration-to-administration links – so that we can reuse the data.
Finland and Estonia already have a great cooperation planned in this field. We have started working on an automated exchange of data, based on a cross-border version of the Estonian ‘X-road' data exchange layer. This allows us to connect our governments. As a result, Finland and Estonia can jointly deliver efficient and effective cross-border digital services to people and companies.
Asking for data just once would make this happen everywhere in the European Union – working and doing business across borders would be so much easier! I hope that we can truly create a digital single market in Europe this way, making life and business easier for all exporters as well.
Welcome to e-Estonia and doing business with our companies!
Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia