Welcoming address 2017

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6 June 2017 | 09:00 - 09:30 | Grand Ballroom, Swissotel, Tallinn, Estonia
Programme overview 2017

Welcome session 2017


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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: It is a real pleasure and honor to welcome you all here in Tallinn, Estonia, for the 10th annual EuroDIG. It's a real pleasure to see a full house. Nearly 600 people have registered for the Conference. And we have people from over 40 countries present. So that in itself shows the importance that we place on the future of the Internet.

I promised you on the 31st of January when we held a planner meeting in Tallinn that we would have better weather in Tallinn in June than in January. Yesterday it seemed a close call, but luckily we have some sunshine outside. And I hope that besides the Conference you, also enjoy the beautiful Tallinn.

But without further ado and without you having to listen to my voice, it's a distinct pleasure and honor to give the floor to the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid.


>> PRESIDENT KALJULAID: Excellencies, it is wonderful to see you all here. Dear citizens of the World Wide Web of democracies, we live in a digital age. We know we are all connected by optical cables and computers, but most importantly, by the faith, our faith, in the sanctity of individual human spirit and freedom. We believe in those values. They are universal.

By this I mean the whole package of freedom and Democracy, free and clear elections, rule of law, independent jury, respect of human rights and freedoms. In the modern digitized society, a free Internet is just as natural a part of the package.

The exponential growth of the use of information technology and the Internet, it has changed our society so much we can no longer imagine life without it.

The Internet affects our culture, it affects our economies, the way we think and communicate, and the way we govern our States and handle International relations.

While there are some regimes out there who would really like to replace the multistakeholder manner of governance that we have together with something different, a governance of Internet. I here firmly believe that cybersecurity cannot be used as an excuse to limit Freedom of Expression. It cannot replace the restrictions that place them in the hands of those who have a different value system and no regard for human dignity and freedom. No regard, also, for freedom of speech.

Or who would want to question free expression in the name of domestic security? Those who should not just regulate our Internet.

We do not have to see freedom and security as mutually exclusive. Indeed, secure online interactions, they are a precondition for enjoying full Internet freedom.

Here in Estonia, we have managed the balance between security and freedom by providing a network of public and private eServices, based on a secure online identity. And I'm very proud to be the President of the only digital society which has a state.

As of last year, we also are proud to be the first in the world in Internet freedom, according to Freedom House. We are number one yet again.

Ladies and gentlemen, the future of our secure and free Internet is not just a question about lifestyle. The Internet is a driver for economic growth and development. Since the '80s, we have had interglobal networks used by over four billion users today. Much of the world's communication passes through it. Internet access has become a key to our development.

Yet we see too few Governments in action in the Internet. That is a risk for our societies. Our businesses are on the Internet. Our people interact between each other and the businesses on the Internet. Where are the Governments in the picture? They should be there if they do not want to become less relevant to their citizens.

I am proud that Estonia has chosen the furthering of governance by ICT as one of the key priorities of our country's International development cooperation activities.

Smart and knowledgeable use of ICT is an effective tool for bringing about fundamental changes in governance. The benefit to Government institutions, businesses and cities and eServices offered by Government and also private businesses by far outweighs the cost of investment made to create and maintain these eServices.

We in Estonia, we have been able to offer more efficient public services to the effect of saving 2 percent of the GDP by simply signing everything digitally. If one million people in ten minutes can give, if they are getting 10 million digital signatures, they are much bigger than their physical core.

But this is not the most important part. The most important part is that these 2 percent benefit most of all simple people, because there is the capacity to manage and handle the big bureaucracy. So all of these savings are heavily skewed towards those who are weaker in the societies. It's a Democratic saving.

As the World Bank's last year dividends demonstrated, the countries that gain most from the digital revolution, they are those where technology goes hand in hand with relevant changes in the so-called analog sphere, the legal system, the economy and developing the skills of people.

Added value that digital technologies provide is a more transparent business environment and more accountable Government. This is something Governments need to recognize. The World Bank's digital report clearly demonstrated that while adopting digital technology can provide a major growth impact and transform governance, it can only truly happen if there are policies in place that do support digital adoption. The policies which change societies, not the technological processes of governance.

First, connectivity is an essential precondition but it does not automatically result in digital dividends.

Second -- and that is much more complicated, but also, finally, much more rewarding -- one has to factor the ICT and digital technology into legislation and Regulation. By this Governments also take obligations towards their citizens. If Regulation recognizes e-commerce, for example, as equal, exactly equal to physical, then the contractual security provided to small businesses would incentivize them to seek out digital alternatives for their operations, because they are clearly both time and cost efficient. If legal barriers are removed, everything is quickly online.

The Estonian solution that we have tried out and found to be functioning is based on creating unique online identity in a publicly developed and secure ecosystem. But it might not be the only way. This has been our way. Here in Estonia, fast changes shifted the fundamentals of our society ministers of public life in business, in governance, and also in the very way members of our society lead their lives. Today in Estonia we talk about eGovernance and eState, but what is much more important is that we have truly a digital society. A society where technologies not only roll into the everyday life of people, and where people would absolutely refuse to go back to paper.

We don't have any choice here anymore. We have to continue. We know cyber risks, we know cyber can be a danger, but you know it's like cosmic dust falling on our atmosphere. And it's like keeping our streets safe for people. We know there are people out who hurt other people, unfortunately, but we don't abandon our street space. We should not abandon the cyberspace anymore.

What I also want to stress is while we talk about the Estonian experience, we don't expect other countries to copy us, to follow what we have been doing. We do not believe that digital states can be directly translated to any other place in the world. But we can tell what is our experience. And remembering every state is a culture, a different culture, encourage other States to also translate their cultural state into digital sphere, doing it their own way, the way they believe is the right way.

So we are not preaching to convert or unconverted, and we don't think it can always be done our way. But we encourage you to find your way.

As you know, Estonia, our presidency, has a strong digital agenda. We must make sure we maintain cyberspace for the right powers and not abandon it to the dark forces. The future of the world will be digital and the sustainability of Europe embraces transformations by boldly seizing the opportunities offered by this strength.

At the same time, rapid change and new technologies always create vulnerabilities, and our task every day will be to balance these risks and those benefits fairly.

Our council presidency will focus on the establishment of a digital single market, increase the solutions and data, as well as on the development of cross-border eServices.

We will need to focus on facilitating the strategic discussions among Member States on the road ahead. And we expect to have the EU cybersecurity strategy on the table by this autumn. We will work to make the Network and Information Security Directive effectively implemented by leading the work of cooperation formats envisioned there. We will lead discussions on the proper institution setup on the EU level. For example, by negotiations on the things that are mandated in Council.

And last but not least, we will do concrete actions to post the cyberresilience of Europe. We will hold a tabletop exercise for defense ministers, and we will be compiling a guidebook on how to react to incidents on the EU level. That is an ambitious programme for six months, but together with our partners, we know we can.

Digital society above all enables the free and free thinking citizens. Their interactions will become effortless. And for its citizens being the center of the system, this does not only mean high quality public service, it also will mean having more opportunities to effectively have their say in politics. Not only on the social media platforms or street demonstrations, but also by engaging the citizens in a meaningful dialogue with the Government permanently, 24/7, 365.

This is open Government of The 21st century. It's a culture with the citizens and Governments are partners, sharing the responsibility for the future of their country. No ideas must be missing, no ideas must be lost just because they were in the head of somebody who is far physically or for other reasons from the mainstream debate. Everybody can be heard.

The digital disruption changes societies at least as much as industrialization did. And we have to face probably even more. So we need to develop our capacity to foresee and to be prepared for this fundamental change. I am convinced that these trends will pose a challenge to our current understanding about work, about welfare, but also about global security. I hope that EuroDIG will be able to dig deep into some of the discussions.

Good luck, and happy discussions.

Thank you for listening.


>> GERT AUVAART: Thank you Very much.

Ladies and gentlemen --


>> GERT AUVAART: Ladies and gentlemen, your Excellency, in order to raise the bar for the EuroDIG organizers next year, it's a pleasure to have two heads of state addressing you at this meeting. And also to confirm the importance that the Baltic region plays on the future of the Internet, and how we see it. It is my distinct honour to welcome to the floor Madam President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite.


>> PRESIDENT GRYBAUSKAITE: I was running through the state visit, and jumped in at the invitation of the President. But it's an honour, because such conference is the 10th time and it's the anniversary of such A conference and it's held in country which is a frontrunner of the digital society. I'm happy that it's a Baltic state country, where generally, as a region, we are seen by the world as operative countries. And I'm happy to be today in Estonia.

On the Conference, it's clear that the digital society can help, can help to be faster, more competitive, and even more Democratic, because it allows all citizens and noncitizens to express their opinions. What matters for us politicians, at least to hear, to read and to understand what our citizens are saying to us. Not always the case.

And this is only the tool. While the substance of the reforms, integration, competitiveness of Europe, in general, depends on our decisions, on our political will to integrate. And today the press which we all face gives us additional challenge for this tool to be used. And it's good that the cybersecurity is in Estonia, NATO and in Latvia is the information security centre, really. So this all rests today in our hands and Baltic hands, and we are frontrunners in the European and frontrunners in the NATO societies. A lot of people are looking to us, because we need not only to lead, we need to help other countries to be together with us and run in the same face.

So why such kind of conferences? In this case, this one and in Lithuania was another one, so we have a lot of events. And I wish that these events will demonstrate not only our knowledge but also our willingness to introduce in all areas of our life the Internet digitalization, as much as we can provide together with the security.

Today our region is in quite, we say, an interesting situation? Not saying differently? But we know how to react. We are used to it. And if somebody is coming far from our region and asking are we afraid, and I can join your President saying no. We are used to living in this environment. We know how to live in this environment. But we also are realistic. We know what threats are about. And we know that we need to challenge them and challenge not only with the military exercises, deterrents, which we do, but also with our capacities to be knowledgeable, to be able to move fast, to change and adapt our economies fast and to be competitive. Together keeping Democratic capabilities of all of our citizens to be involved.

And this is not the case in all Europe. And today Europe is a bit behind on creating an internal market, deepening integration, and here we are very much as the region supportive of Europe to be faster, more integrated, quality, deeper integrated, and knowledgeable. And I wish not only this conference, but Estonia presidency especially, because it's the main topic of your presidency, to do at most. You can. You can do it. And we will support you. Thank you.


>> GERT AUVAART: Thank you very much, Madam President. Thank you.

Our third welcome note from the morning will be from the Secretary General of EuroDIG. You all know her, Sandra Hoferichter.

You have the floor.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much. It's great to see such a packed room.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER. Ladies and gentlemen. It is the 10th time in a row that we welcome you to a European Dialogue on Internet Governance. I would like to thank her excellencies the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser, and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand for inviting us to Estonia.

Her Excellency President Dalia Grybauskaite, thank you, too, for the warm welcome in the Baltic region.

I could not think of a better place to discussion DIGital Futures and celebrate the 10th anniversary than in e-Estonia, the leading country in Europe in using new technologies and building digital citizenship. You will have many opportunities during the next two days to discover what digital citizenship means for the people in this country!

In 2008, EuroDIG was among the first initiatives to discuss Internet Governance after the establishment of the UN IGF. What has begun as an idea of about 10 enthusiastic individuals, in a cafe in Paris, led to its first meeting four months later hosted by the Council of Europe and supported by OFCOM Switzerland, among others who discovered the potential of this format.

Now we can see over 20 national and regional Internet Governance initiatives across Europe and there are more to follow. Europe is the region with the most Internet governance initiatives and I believe we are in a leading role here.

The people behind all of these initiatives and the attendees of such meetings are committed to the multistakeholder model. It is a growing community, but we should be realistic. It is still a minority.

Although many Governments in Europe and around the world are committed, multistakeholderism is not necessarily considered to be the model of the future and forums like this are sometimes questioned about the impact they can create. You can see that:

Legislation many times is made without consulting other stakeholders.

The digitalization of our life's sometimes just happens without an option to opt out.

And most users do not really see a need to engage into Internet governance.

The aim of EuroDIG is to raise awareness for the challenges ahead. It is, like many other forums, the place to start and facilitate a discussion, but not to finalize it.

Last year's EuroDIG overarching theme was: "Embracing the digital revolution." The discussion was focused on the development of digital markets in Europe and industry 4.0.

Recent developments have shown that some people fear the digital revolution goes along with a loss of their workplaces, their privacy, and they have less trust in the future. Therefore, we are looking at the "DIGital Futures" from a different angle this year and would like to discuss "Promises and pitfalls."

Over 650 participants did register and around 50 young people did prepare over the last three days in two youth programmes: Copyfighters and YOUthDIG. With thanks to sponsors and partners we could again offer travel support to around 40 participants.

If I could make a wish to the 10th birthday, I would like to see this community growing!

Sessions organizers worked hard to create a manifold programme. The host in cooperation with the Estonian Internet Foundation organised a birthday party to remember. You have the chance to meet a lot of interesting people and experts. And we hope the coming two days will be memorable for you. Thank you very much.


>> GERT AUVAART: Thank you very much. This concludes the welcoming part of our meeting.

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.