Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

Interview

Nordic-Baltic digital market 'no threat to EU'

  • Nordic-Baltic digital single market is complementary, not a threat to, that of the EU, said Norwegian state secretary Chaffey (Photo: Tom Hansen / Innovasjon Norge)

The Nordic-Baltic digital cooperation is not an alternative to the EU's digital single market strategy but an added value, said Paul Chaffey, state secretary at the Norwegian ministry of local government and modernisation.

"Nordic cooperation is sometimes looking for new challenges," he told EUobserver in an interview, in the margins of a digital presidency conference organised by the Ceps think tank in Brussels last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We thought, with Estonia in the EU presidency and us in the Nordic presidency, we could use that as an opportunity to … lift it on the political agenda, and see what can we do in practice together, our countries, to realise the digital single market," explained Chaffey.

Norway in 2017 held the annually rotating presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental cooperation forum consisting also of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Aaland, Faroe Islands, and Greenland.

Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are also EU members, while Norway and Iceland take part in many of the EU's single market legislation through the European Free Trade Association (Efta).

Estonia, which makes up the Baltics with Latvia and Lithuania, meanwhile held the six-month Council of the EU presidency, which it used to portray itself as a pioneering digital nation and share what it saw as best practice approaches towards digitisation.

Last April, the Nordic and Baltic countries came together in Oslo and signed a declaration saying that they wanted "to show the way for digitalisation of Europe".

But Chaffey explained that this did not mean that the EU's overarching digital strategy is dismissed.

"The EU is doing a fine job," he said about the legislative push towards more harmonised rules on digital affairs.

"What we want do is add value on top, and do things in practice, that have to do with border controls, that have to do with free movement of data, and if the EU catches up, that's a fine thing, because we might have been able to show the way in some areas," said the Norwegian politician.

While the EU sets the goals, the implementation of policy is in the hands of the national governments of member states.

The idea behind the Nordic-Baltic cooperation is to do the implementation in unison.

"The EU is on a multinational level and doesn't invest in the IT platforms in individual countries. A lot of these areas are a national responsibility. Education, health care are examples of that," he noted.

He gave as an example that students from one Nordic country in another could benefit if government databases are linked so that they can access health or municipal services.

Geo-blocking

The regional cooperation could also take steps on some files where the EU has been unable to progress, such as geo-blocking of audiovisual media.

In many cases, it is not possible to stream sports events or watch certain online films or series from another EU country.

"We have the same debate that's going on in the rest of Europe there," said Chaffey.

In particular citizens in a country like Finland, with a Swedish linguistic minority, could benefit from the lifting of geo-blocking of Swedish content, for example.

"There are these cases of minorities, who might be very interested in what's going on in another country, or you have communities of immigrants that you have to cater for in some way, and the rules and regulations don't do that," said the Norwegian.

"There are loads of sand that can be put in the machinery because there are commercial interests – legitimate interests: people have to make a living from what they create."

He noted that making rules in the digital world is "fairly complicated" and that Norway as a small country depended on the EU for a long-term solution.

Chaffey added the Nordic-Baltic cooperation would not lead to an increasingly multi-speed Europe.

"This doesn't have to do with legal status or legislation. It has to do with something that's normal, usual in other areas as well, that some countries are moving a bit further ahead when it comes to the practical, the technological solutions."

Analysis

Suddenly, digital single market doesn't 'need' EU agency

EU digital commissioner Gabriel downplayed the rejection of the commission's plan for a strong EU telecommunications watchdog, highlighting that the elements of the digital single market are not set in stone.

News in Brief

  1. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  2. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'
  3. EU values not negotiable, German FM tells Poland
  4. Audit warns 840 French bridges at risk of collapse
  5. Fashion king pours money into campaign for second Brexit vote
  6. Germany could aid Turkey, SPD leader hints
  7. UK government set to publish no-deal Brexit advice
  8. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants

Opinion

'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Swedes head to the polls in September in a national parliamentary election, while Bavarians vote in October in a state election. In both elections, voters' nativist sentiments may well help determine the outcome.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  2. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  3. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  4. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  5. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  6. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  7. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  8. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us