No argument whatsoever against directing public services into Internet, said Andrus Ansip – candidate for European Commission vice president over common digital market, in opening statement to grilling before MEPs last night in Brussels. Mr Ansip vowed to do all in his power to link public services all across Europe.
According to Mr Ansip, EU legislation has fallen out of step with the age – having no readiness for digital common market. «I don’t think we should be regulating everything; even so, we can’t leave things the way they have always been, for then there would be no development.»
Mr Ansip said what matters most to people is security and the certainty that privacy is protected. «That’s the corner stone for digital economy as such,» he noted, adding there could be no trust without security.
Common market the jobs maker
According to Mr Ansip, European Parliament has done a good job creating the common telecom market. He promised that, as Vice President, he would stand for the lowering of roaming taxes and would support the net neutrality principle.
«For the people, common digital market must offer more rights as consumers, entrepreneurs and creators,» said Mr Ansip and noted that Internet does away with borders, distances and time.
«If e-commerce were 15 percent of European retail sales instead of five, European economy would grow by 1.7 percent faster annually,» he said, adding that, currently, about a quarter of EU Internet users can’t buy or consume desired services. «Geographical blocking is against the principles of common digital market,» underlined Mr Ansip.
«A united digital market creates jobs,» observed Mr Ansip. According to him, 900 000 jobs may be lacking in IT-sector by 2020.
Winding up, the former Estonian prime minister stressed the importance of digital governance and public e-services. «There’s no argument whatsoever against redirecting public services into Internet. That would reduce costs, make life easier for citizens, and provide for more transparent governance,» said Mr Ansip, citing his personal experience about a functioning paper-free government.
Mr Ansip promised adoption by 2020 of e-procurements system, and use of digital signatures system by end of his term. He plans to be working towards further integrating public services across the entirety of Europe.
«I will cooperate with all factions. Also, I hope during five years we will be able to create a common digital market for Europe,» promised the aspiring VP.
During the questioning, fellow MEP Kaja Kallas asked Mr Ansip how fast it would be possible to transfer European Commission into paperless governing; would that work in European Parliament as well, and how much money would be thus saved.
«As emphasis on language diversity, I’ll answer the question posed in Estonian in Estonian,» said Mr Ansip. «We don’t have to start from scratch. In many things, European Commission and European parliament are paper-free. /.../ I am convinced both European Commission and parliament must stand as examples, in e-business, to other institutions of the EU.»
Nothing to hide
Indrek Tarand, however, asked Mr Ansip to specify his written reply about him «having always been Europe-minded». «Is ten years in Communist Party also democratic? What kind of trust do you intend to get from the parliament, bluffing here [like this]?» Mr Tarand [an Estonian – edit] asked in English.
According to Mr Ansip, everybody in Estonia knows he was a Communist Party member. «Our people also know if was mayor of Estonia’s second biggest city for six years. The people know I have been elected into parliament [the Riigikogu – edit] for four times, and that in spite they knew details regarding my past. At the last European Parliament elections, Estonians voted for me and my party. Me and my party got the largest amount of votes at European Parliament elections. My past is transparent, I have nothing to hide,» he said.