Estonia will transfer to opening the postal market as soon as possible

In a situation, where several member states of the European Union have not made an univalent decision whether the open the postal market on the set deadline in the year 2009, Estonia is in favour of the complete opening without with delays, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Parts confirmed. He introduced the position of Estonia today in the opening speech of the plenary meeting of the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP) held in Tallinn.

 

The detailed plan for the future must be established with the third Postal Directive, which is currently discussed in the EU.

 

Parts stated that upon the opening of the market the good availability of the postal services must still be guaranteed also in the sparsely populated rural areas, which are not as profitable markets as the towns. At the same time the guaranteeing of the universal postal service in the whole country is the task of the state and this will be achieved by efficient regulation.

 

The Minister brought a good example of the benefits of opening the market from the opening of the Estonian telecom market six years ago. “It resulted in a wide choice of different new services, which was accompanied by the significant decrease in the prices”, he noted. “If we have an open market, the interests of each client will acquire a special value and the people can only gain from it.”

 

Parts recognised in his speech the work of CERP covering 46 European countries, which lies in finding an intersection between the different regulations of the postal markets valid in different countries, bringing out the best practices and recommendations for spreading these.

Source: Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

Cabinet approves action plan to fight cyber-attacks

The action plan to fight cyber-attacks submitted to the Government by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications was approved at today’s cabinet session.

“We have come to a point where we can draw conclusions about what happened and define the activities for the coming year”, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts said.

 

The Government concluded that the cyber-attacks carried out against Estonia in April and May could not paralyze our normal daily activities. However, they are a clear sign that in the cyber-world such acts can be organised against a state, which in certain situations and when conducted on a large scale, could pose a significant security risk. The Government was of the opinion that an adequate response was given to these attacks.

 

First, the action plan seeks to improve the processes of preparing for emergencies in light of the cyber-attacks. A Cyber Defence Strategy has to be developed as well, which takes into account the special nature of the cyber-space and ties the latter with current security strategies. The existing Information Security Framework must be modified in line with this new strategy.

 

Secondly, the action plan emphasises the importance of information security of the state information systems. Even if the attacks this spring were aimed at disturbing the operation of the systems, i.e. the provision of services, possible future attempts could be directed towards the confidentiality of the state information system and the integrity of its data. Thus the action plan calls for significant attention to those aspects. 

 

Pursuant to the 2004 Government of the Republic Regulation establishing a system of security measures for information systems, by 1 January 2008 each government authority must have determined security levels for its systems and have in place measures corresponding to such levels. The action plan sets out ways of implementing the regulation in an adequate and expedient manner.

 

The third aim of the action plan is to improve the legal framework and create a strong legal basis for fighting cybercrime. The action plan also defines vigorous international action. As one of its most important aims the action plan calls for signing and ratification of the Convention on Cybercrime by the world states.

 

The action plan was developed by a working party established by the Government upon the proposal of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in the middle of the month of May. The working party was led by the secretaries general of the Ministry of Justice, Defence, Economic Affairs and Communications, Finance, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, as well as the director of security coordination of the State Chancellery.

 

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Defence, Internal Affairs and Justice will be mainly implementing the action plan.

 

Source: Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

Lack of natural resources to be alleviated by new technology

At the unofficial meeting of the European Union’s environmental council held in Essen in Germany at the beginning of June, the Ministers of the Environment from EU member states agreed that economic development would begin to be restricted by a lack of resources as early as this century, and that a third industrial revolution would be required in order to alleviate this situation.

“The focus of the meeting was ecological industrial policy, and discussions led to the conclusion that the availability of affordable labour is no longer the problem, but rather natural resources, which have already become the determining factor in a number of branches of industry,” explains Allan Gromov, Deputy Secretary-General at the Ministry of the Environment.

The importance of natural resources such as metal ores, oil and fresh water is set to grow further, and this could even lead to international conflict. “Which is why environmental and economic policies should be closely interwoven,” says Gromov.

The energy issue is being thrown in ever sharper contrast around the world, as the resources that are currently being used are limited. New energy sources and technology must be found, their adoption launching a third industrial revolution. “One of the most important sources of energy in the future will be hydrogen, and hydrogen technology will play a crucial role,” Gromov predicts.

On a positive note, the ministers highlighted the fact that the environmental technology market is larger than first thought and growing more quickly than traditional branches of industry. The European Union currently enjoys a very good place in the world in the field of environmental industry, but the problem it faces is the fragmented nature of companies and the focus on internal markets. Its position may be threatened if other countries, such as the United States, Japan and Australia, implement national programmes that aid the significantly more rapid development and adoption of technologies that are economical in terms of both the environment and natural resources.

As a result, EU companies will need to become more international and form networks for product development and the opening-up of markets if they are to remain competitive. The role of governments would be to establish ambitious environmental standards that were based on the best available technology and that also used economic instruments; that would stimulate demand (through environmentally friendly state tenders, for example); and that would support company growth, scientific research and innovation. “Work is also being done in Estonia towards implementing ecological tax reforms and green state tenders,” Gromov explains.

The members of the Estonian delegation at the meeting were the Ministry of the Environment’s Secretary-General Annika Uudelepp, Deputy Secretary-General Allan Gromov, and chief specialist with the International Cooperation Department, Kärt Merilain. All of the participants were taken on an excursion to the environmental technology trade fair EcoTech and introduced to the latest ecological solutions.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

Government approves state budget strategy for 2008-2011

During its session today the government approved the State Budget Strategy for 2008-2011. The strategy amounts to 415.5 billion kroons, of which 52.9 billion comprise external funds.The State Budget Strategy is Estonia’s most important mid-term strategic programme document, in which the government presents an analysis of the current situation in the country and a forecast of economic development, the budgetary policy principles developed on this basis, funding priorities and a detailed funding plan for 2008-2011.

The strategy forms the basis for the development of the next four years’ state budgets, with the first results being seen this autumn with the completion of the 2008 budget. “We use the budget to plan and direct the development of the country and to express and realise our priorities, not just to mechanically hand out money,” explained Minister of Finance Ivari Padar. “Budget policy is also the main means the government has to influence economic development, which is why careful planning and a comprehensive vision are so important. To be successful at what we do, we have to plan the way we use our money long in advance. These plans also have to be interwoven and based on thorough analysis. All of this is brought together in the budget strategy that has just been approved.”

The government’s primary goal with the strategy is to ensure the rapid and sustainable development of the country. This incorporates three secondary goals: economic competitiveness, social cohesion and more economical exploitation of the environment. “The government’s priorities are ensuring the future of the Estonian nation; good education and the creation of knowledge; personal wealth and well-being; a good life and new and better jobs all over Estonia; and making sure that the situation is calm in the country and guaranteeing international security,” explained the minister, highlighting the areas that are covered in the strategy.

This budget strategy is notable for the fact that the four years it covers coincide almost exactly with the term of office of the governing coalition. This is why it takes all of the key activities planned by the government into account. Describing the strategy, Minister Padar said: “On the one hand it gives us a realistic overview of what the state is planning for the next four years, while on the other reassuring us that the financial cover is there for these plans and that they will be able to be implemented during our term in office. State budgets in Estonia have been put together for years on the principle that the government sector budget should at least be in balance. Last year was the first time a budget has been drawn up with a surplus, and we have set ourselves the clear goal of continuing to do this in future. You have to strike a reasonable balance. The state has to rein in the consumption boom and do everything it can to ensure that there are no further obstacles to the transition to the euro, and planning budgets with a surplus will help achieve this. At the same time, we can’t sacrifice the investments in education, family policy and innovation that the country is in such desperate need of at the moment. And all of these areas are taken into consideration in the strategy.”

All of the key goals, activities and projects and their financial volumes are set out in the strategy on a year-by-year basis. The total budget will increase in 2008 by almost 20 percent. Thereafter it will witness more modest but no less remarkable growth: 10 percent in 2009, decreasing to 6 percent by 2011.

Click here for more details on the State Budget Strategy 2008-2011 (doc)
Source: Ministry of Finance

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