Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg – Key 02 2017

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6 June 2017 | 16:30 - 17:00 | Grand Ballroom, Swissotel, Tallinn, Estonia | video record
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Keynote: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg

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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.


>> GERT AUVAART: So, ladies and gentlemen, if you kindly take your seats, we will continue with the conference.

I hope you had a very thought provoking and productive session at the different working sessions. And we have had a very interesting day so far.

Now, in order to continue in this Baltic Nordic cooperation fashion, it's my distinct privilege and honour to invite to the podium to deliver a keynote speech to you the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, Madam Erna Solberg.

You have the floor, Madam.

(Applause)

>> PRIME MINISTER ERNA SOLBERG: Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to first start by saying it's a pleasure to be here in Tallinn. And in just a few weeks' time, Estonia will take up the rotating EU presidency. I understand that they are already trying out in a lot of fields this week because of the election in Malta. And you're doing this despite the fact that you are six months ahead of schedule. So you are still hosting an important event here today, even though you are so busy with preparing for being the head of the European.

But this is another statement of how energetic, engaged, and I would like to say ambitious Estonia is. Your leadership in digital is very visible, it's timely, and it is much needed.

I will return to the topic of Estonia a little while later, but I will just start by stating the obvious. The digital agenda is in the very best hands for the coming months, when Estonia is having the presidency of the EU.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Internet is arguably the most important infrastructure in the world today. It is the infrastructure that all other infrastructures depend on. It has changed the way we live and work. It has changed our views of what is possible. And it's part of the solution to all the greatest challenges of our time.

And if you think about what it has changed: Today poor persons, poor youth in Africa can access the most and best lectures from the best University through the Internet. Something that was a dividing force earlier on becomes accessible because of this infrastructure.

But, of course, there are some challenges, and how and by whom the Internet is governed is therefore of major importance. It affects our economy and our national and global security, and it will affect the lives of the next coming generations. And this is why Internet governance issues are so important. And why we need to shape the future of the Internet together.

I believe that we have a long-term strategic interest in maintaining a robust, secure, open, and free Internet. Developing the framework norms and rules that will shape the framework of cyberspace requires active engagement.

Norway is one of the most digitized countries in the world. The development of the Internet and of digital services and products mainly takes place in the private sector. My Government attaches importance of avoiding unnecessary regulations and rules. Unnecessary regulations hinders development and innovation. Innovative individuals and companies can literally change the world.

And, remember, it is only ten years since the first iPhone was introduced. Our children believe they have existed since the stone age. And when you have this in aspect, you can also think of how many more inventions as important as iPhones that will come in our lifetime just ahead of us.

Perhaps our children will never need to learn how to drive. I'm now paying for my son's driving lessons, it's quite expensive in Norway. So it will be a benefit to future family economists if you don't have to, but it will change our society totally. In any case, I don't think people will have to struggle with parallel parking for much longer when driverless cars come.

And it's difficult to predict exactly which digital services and products we will take for granted in a few years from now. We know quite a lot about what is possible. But we are also getting used to seeing new realities and exceed most people's wildest dreams.

Innovation and technological development inspires and gives birth to optimism. But we also need to be vigilant. We need to ensure the safety of our citizens. This also applies to the Internet. New and very serious threats have emerged in power over the digital revolution. Cyberthreats are on the rise. Digital network operation, the manipulation of digital information, and the use of malware to both State and nonState actors are threatening our way of life. Information sharing between States and between public and private sectors is crucial for enabling us to respond to these threats. No country can address these threats alone. But all countries can have mechanisms in place to deal with cyber incidents.

There is no single global institution governing the Internet today. Furthermore, there are no International instruments regulating how States are to deal with the challenges stemming from the Internet. And we need to be aware of the fine lines between what is technologically possible to achieve, what can be regulated, and what is politically desirable.

It calls for a delicate balanced act. A robust, secure, open and free Internet is all about finding the right balance between what we can do and what we should do. In fact, cyberspace is largely a domain without global regulation. There is, however, increasing global interest in establishing principles for good governance and administration. This is vital if we are to prevent the development of a fragmented Internet that has lost its global character.

The Norwegian Government has developed a set of priorities in order to promote robust governance of the Internet. Firstly, we are promoting a global Internet policy that will enable and help ensure that the Internet remains open, accessible, and a robust platform for growth and development.

Secondly, we are promoting the principle that the business community should be responsible of running and developing the Internet.

The multistakeholder community, Governments, business, Civil Society and academia, should be responsible for Internet governance.

Thirdly, we are promoting good governance in the organisation that controls the basic Internet resources. Openness, responsibility, transparency, and representativeness, and impartiality are key principles.

Fourth and finally, we are seeking to maintain an Internet that has few regulations, as few regulations as possible, and it's not subjected to unnecessary interference from Governments.

In other words, Norway will continue to play an active role in Internet governance issues.

Let me now turn to the question on how the digitalization calls for cooperation in a somewhat broader sense. Political leaders have responsibility to understand how technology affects our lives, our economy, and our society. It is vital that they shoulder this responsibility. We need to apply principles of openness, accountability, transparency, representation and competence both online and offline.

Policy choices largely determine whether or not digital technologies will make development more inclusive, innovative, and effective. The wrong choices could lead to more inequality, less development, and new monopolies.

We need to be progressive. We need to be able to respond to the realities of people's lives and meet their expectations if we are not. But we also need to provide reassurance. We need to maintain strong bonds of trust between citizens and Government. And we need to ensure transparency and predictability for our businesses and for our citizens.

Our task is to shape inclusive societies where everybody can take part and realise their potential.

Digital dividend divides must be printed. We must not let the fear of the future take hold, but we must understand the new challenges to society that the digital era in fact will bring with it.

Ladies and gentlemen, while Estonia is preparing to take over the EU presidency, Norway is Chairing the Nordic and Nordic Baltic cooperation. It might not be as strong as the European, but to us it's important. And we have made digitalization a main priority of our Chairmanship. The reason is simple. We need cooperations on the issues that will shape our common future. In April, we hosted a digital Nordic conference in Oslo. Among the participants were Nordic and Baltic principals responsible for digitalization, leading tech companies, and other stakeholders. One of the outcomes of the Conference was to -- was that the Nordic and Baltic ministers agreed on an ambitious set of priorities for digital cooperation.

And I'd like to share some of these with you. Firstly, we agreed to work together to strengthen our ability to support digital transformation. We need to seek and create a common arena for digital services in the public sector. Removing technical and legal barriers is one aspect of this. We want to make life easier for our citizens and for companies. This is important to make more jobs and more inclusive growth.

For instance, we want to make it possible to use a unique identity number across borders. This will facilitate cooperation between national infrastructure and the use of electronic ID.

Furthermore, we agree to promote the reuse and free movement of data in order to support more advanced public services. We also need to support and put into practice the principle of "once only" and "digital by default." This will reduce administrative burdens for citizens and businesses alike.

Cybersecurity and personal data protection are essential for implementing the goals of our cooperation and for all digital solutions across the Nordic and Baltic region. This is addressing the security issue for individuals on their data.

Digital cooperation is also a way of increasing our competitiveness. Another joint Nordic/Baltic ambition is to promote initiatives that will make our digital technology develop as suppliers and front runners in a new data economy.

Our region is full of promising start-up clusters. We can achieve more by facilitating collaboration between these clusters. Norway and Estonia have a particular and exciting road ahead on this respect. A few weeks ago we signed an agreement that would provide 23 million Euros of funding for green innovation and business development. And I'm convinced that this programme will generate excellent digital solutions and products in the coming years, to the benefit of both countries.

Promoting 5G is another concrete area of Nordic/Baltic cooperation. Exchanging ideas and policies, we can be at the cutting edge when it comes to developing and making use of 5G. Smart cities, intelligent transport systems, and public safety and disaster relief are examples of areas of particular interest.

However, it is important to stress that our Nordic/Baltic cooperation is not meant to be exclusive. On the contrary, we see ourselves as contributors to a better and more connected Digital Europe.

The European Union has played a key role in developing across border digital cooperation. Norway is an active participant in the development of the digital single market. Our cooperation is, therefore, geared towards enhancing the digital single market in the Nordic/Baltic region, not providing a substitute for the European efforts.

And some will perhaps say that these lofty ambitions. I believe that they are necessary and realistic. Because we already live our lives in integrated economies. We create growth by traveling and trading freely. And we need digital solutions that support the connected lives that we already live. And I'm also convinced that we have an excellent starting point. Nordic and Baltic countries are digital front runners. Maybe in different aspects of what we do, but then we also can learn from each other.

We have a strong record of innovation, and our societies are characterized by a high level of trust. And I think that's important if people are going to feel secure in societies where digital knowledge is changing fundamentally.

Our citizens are connected. They have a high level of digital competence. It's no coincidence that there is an almost perfect overlap between the Estonian EU President's priorities and Norwegian priorities for the Nordic/Baltic digital cooperation. This is because we are European partners. E-Estonia is a well-established term, perhaps even a recognized trademark. The reason of course is that Estonia is one of the most advanced e-societies in the world. Estonia likes to say that they are digital by default. That the alternative simply isn't viable. I have to admit I like that type of attitude. Actually, I've liked it so much, that today I've become an e-Resident of Estonia.

(Applause)

It's not because we have bad e-solutions in Norway, and not because I'm thinking about quitting Norwegian politics and start business in Tallinn. We have elections in September, and I'm still running.

(Laughter)

But it's because I'm convinced that we need to learn from each other. I believe that digital mobility can be a step towards closer digital cooperation. To understand what the best are doing in one area means that you can learn in another area in the future.

In a sense, the objective of our digital cooperation is to make e-Residency obsolete, in fact, at least in the internal market. But we have not reached that point yet. In the meantime, we have everything to gain from drawing inspiration from the innovative solutions that are inclusive by design. And I'm sure that Estonia will continue both to inspire during your EU presidency, but also on all the work you are doing in the digital world in the years to come.

So thank you very much.

(Applause)

>> GERT AUVAART: Thank you very much. We're very honoured to have the Prime Minister of Norway address EuroDIG.


This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.