On 2 February, Baltic Development Forum (BDF) hosted an informal roundtable discussion with Juhan Parts, Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications, who, together with selected CEOs and Executives from the public and private sector, discussed the subject of digital agenda and energy. Minister Parts was in Copenhagen to participate in the informal meeting of the European Competitive Council where the Ministers of Economy of the EU will discuss digital agenda issues. The meeting was chaired by Hans Skov Christensen, Chairman of BDF.
To “E-stonia” this policy area is of particular importance. Being one of the most advanced countries in the world within e-governance, Estonia has taken a leading role in the development of a Digital Agenda of Europe and strongly supports the development of a regional Digital Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Region. Not least the issue of trust in e-commerce and digital security, including the security of payments, were taken up as important barriers for a successful deepening of the digital single market. Concrete obstacles for e-trade in cross-border services were also addressed.
BDF is presently setting up a regional expert panel on the Digital Agenda. The aim is to define how the Baltic Sea Region can support EU’s growth agenda in this field and take its own initiatives to reduce barriers for an internal market in this sector which has a high growth potential. Together with BCCA, the Baltic Chamber of Commerce Association, BDF will present in June 2012 the result of a study carried out by Copenhagen Economics, financed by a grant from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. The objective is to develop the regional dimension of the EU’s Digital Agenda. One of the expert meetings will take place in Estonia in cooperation with an Estonian expert in the group.
The Minister also presented the economic situation in Estonia. The country has returned to high growth rates, and even though they are not at the same levels as before the crisis, they are now based on much healthier economic grounds – more on exports and less on domestic consumption and demand.
The meeting also touched upon the issue on energy, which Minister Parts is also responsibile for. The question of further Baltic integration in the energy networks of the region and the Nordic countries was addressed. The two different power systems that exist in the Baltic Sea Region (Nordic countries are part of the NORDEL system and the Baltic States are part of the IPS/UPS system of Russia) was discussed as one practical barrier. Despite a common frequency of 50 Hz, the two systems are not synchronously interconnected. This has now become a real obstacle in improving the Baltic countries’ energy security.
Juhan Parts is a close friend of BDF and the Minister has participated in several BDF Summits. Juhan Parts has been Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications since 2007. He was Prime Minister of Estonia 2003-2005. Juhan Parts is a member of the Conservative Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica party.
BDF Contact Person: Chief Advisor, Torben Aaberg, +45 60 21 85 74, firstname.lastname@example.org