Estonian EU presidency to focus on data exchange
Kaja Tael © Baltic Development Forum

Estonian EU presidency to focus on data exchange

The Estonian Ambassador to the EU Kaja Tael has said it will advance several digital files during its six month presidency of the EU, including cross-border electronic exchange of criminal records and cybersecurity.

Estonia will take over the rotating presidency of the EU Council from Malta on 1 July.

The six-month period will see Estonia lead ministerial meetings.

The Estonian Presidency will be a digitally focused one, said Tael.

She said: “We are happy to show off a little bit – show the others what is possible.”

The country has planned almost 50 digitally-themed conferences.

One of Estonia’s goals is to modernise the cross-border electronic exchange of criminal records. “This is an area – databases and interoperability – where we are comfortable,” said Tael.

The presidency also promises “high-speed work” to strengthen cybersecurity rules in the bloc.

Tael says Estonia’s ultimate goal is to see data move unrestricted throughout EU, the same way that capital, workers, goods and services do.

“Some day we might talk about five freedoms in Europe,” she said.

“We know we’re not there yet but we can get the ball rolling. Estonians are hugely pragmatic people. We … usually grab the bull by the horns and get straight into it.”

In advance of the presidency, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has been meeting with eastern European leaders to gain support for e-government and Digital Single Market cybersecurity.

The Estonian Presidency will also tend to the mid-term evaluation of the Horizon 2020 research programme, and try to shape the “political discussion on FP9 [Framework Programme 9],” Indrek Reimand, deputy secretary general for higher education and research at the Estonian government, said.