Press release

UK and Estonia sign Memorandum of Understanding on digital government

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A Memorandum of Understanding marks a new commitment by the UK and Estonia to work together on digital government and public services.

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The signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and Estonia signals a commitment by the two countries to work together on developing public services that are digital by default and marks the latest stage in their co-operation in the ICT and cyber fields, said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The MoU will be signed at the Northern Future Forum in Riga, Latvia, by Liam Maxwell, Government Chief Technology Officer, on behalf of the UK; and by Jaan Priisalu, director-general of the Estonian Information Systems’ Authority (RIA).

It states that the two countries will honour the agreement by:

  • promoting contact and exchange of public officials and experts and organising joint events
  • sharing knowledge and capability in design, architecture and security of public information systems and initiating joint (pilot) projects in this realm
  • collaborating to ensure that both participants will have effective capability and development streams when developing digital public services

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

Estonia is one of the most connected countries in the world and a trailblazer in public sector ICT and cyber security. I was hugely impressed when I visited Estonia last year by how much of government there is online, with e-voting, e-health, e-schools and virtually all tax returns completed on line in minutes. In the UK we have embarked on a similar journey to create digital public services that are so good, people will prefer to use them.

Digital government can also be the underpinning of open societies that put the needs of the citizen first, and the UK already has one of the most transparent governments in the world. So, we have much to learn from each other and much to gain.

This Memorandum of Understanding also shows our commitment to the principle of international cooperation that we share as members of the Open Government Partnership, promoting the lessons and benefits of open government and transparency internationally, and learning from the experiences of other countries.

Liam Maxwell, UK Government Chief Technology Officer, added:

As the first fruits of this new agreement, we are also announcing today the launch of three initiatives to consider open standards, identity verification and open data. These will be initially set up bilaterally between the UK and Estonia, but we welcome participation from other countries in future.

RIA director-general Jaan Priisalu said:

I am glad that our good co-operation and intentions with the UK are now officially signed. The UK is thoroughly concentrating on the development of its digital services. Estonia has a unique opportunity to learn from UK experiences merging public administration and the IT of a large country. Estonia is also interested in co-operating in matters of IT security.

Notes for editors

  1. The Northern Future Forum is an annual informal meeting of prime ministers, policy innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  2. Latvia is the host of the 3rd annual meeting on 27 and 28 February and the forum will consider issues including Nordic-Baltic countries’ views on the Digital Divide.
  3. Work under the MoU will be led by the Government Digital Service (GDS) for the UK and the Estonian Information Systems’ Authority (RIA).
  4. RIA is an Estonian government agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. It is responsible for co-ordinating the development and administration of the state’s information systems, organising activities related to information security, and handling the security incidents that have occurred in Estonian computer networks.
  5. GDS is a core part of the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office. Its remit is to transform government services, making them digital by default.