Estonia and Finland continue cooperation to develop public governance

21.06.2016 | 16:27

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Estonian and Finnish Secretaries of State Heiki Loot and Paula Lehtomäki met today in Tallinn, in order to take stock of the implementation of the recommendations made in the Public Governance Review prepared by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD recommends striving for more focused government activity and cross-border e-services between the two countries should also be developed.

In its Joint Public Governance Review of Estonia and Finland, presented in February 2015, the OECD recommended that the governments concentrate on three to five strategic goals. Upon taking office in spring 2015, both the Estonian and Finnish government set themselves five priorities, the implementation whereof is coordinated by the Strategy Units of the Government Offices in both countries.

For cross-border ICT-related cooperation, the OECD proposes a roadmap for the advancement of cross-border online public services, including specific pilot projects of the services, the procedure for their implementation and keeping a record of the work done and lessons learned during the joint projects, in order to set an example for other EU level countries.

On 10 May this year, Estonian and Finnish Prime Ministers signed digitally a joint declaration on an initial road map for launching data exchange and e-services between Estonia and Finland. It was also agreed that by the end of 2016, specific action plans would be completed for launching automatic data exchange in the field of commercial registers, population registers and social benefit data, e-prescriptions and maritime affairs.

According to the Joint Public Governance Review, a key opportunity for improving the quality of governance both in Estonia and Finland is to create better cohesion in terms of the goals of governance, in organisations, planning and use of resources. Both countries must strive to bring down silos in departmental barriers.

“The work of the central government and its reorganisation should be made more flexible, cooperation between various authorities ought to be improved and more emphasis should be placed on joint execution of the government's objectives,” said the Secretary of State Heiki Loot. Representatives of both countries believe that the key issue here is how to communicate the priorities of the government to all authorities. For example, in Estonia, the Prime Minister met with the top civil servants after the government had taken up office in order to explain the priorities of the government; in Finland, the status of achieving the priorities of the government is reviewed every two weeks in the strategy meetings of the government.

The report points out the system for development of top civil servants in Estonia as a positive example of forming a cohesive team. Compared to Finland, Estonian secretary generals of the ministries are considerably more involved in the decision-making process of the government. Both in Estonia and Finland, the system for assessment of the working results of the top civil servants is being developed.

Paula Lehtomäki expressed a wish to strengthen Estonian-Finnish cooperation in terms of developing public governance, in order to learn from each other’s experiences in various fields.

The joint analysis “Fostering Strategic Capacity Across Governments and Digital Services Across Borders” is the first of its kind in OECD history and as such is unique. The report draws from earlier OECD analyses on Finland (2010) and Estonia (2011). It was concluded from these analyses that both countries have their strengths and weaknesses in relatively similar state organisation in terms of institutional structure.

The Prime Ministers of both countries confirmed their wish and readiness to cooperate in the field of public governance in a meeting that took place in the summer of 2013. Estonia, Finland and the OECD initiated a joint project, which resulted in reports on the governance and e-governance of both countries in February 2014, the completed report was presented a year later.

OECD reports:

Joint declaration of the Prime Ministers of Estonia and Finland on an initial roadmap for launching data exchange and e-services: signed BDOC file and joint declaration in pdf format.