The statement explains, among other things, how the three parliamentary assemblies will co-operate and share their experiences regarding the development of digitalisation. In addition, they shall jointly identify challenges in the area and learn from each other’s solutions.
According to the statement, “co-operation between countries and regions on digitalisation is important both in order to ensure that systems work in an increasingly connected and globalised world, but also to learn from each other through co-operation and innovative solutions.”
The three organisations see digitalisation as a priority area and state that it provides new opportunities in several sectors. At the same time, they call for a debate on fundamental rights and the protection of the individual, as well as on how governments and citizens should be able to manage increased digitalisation.
Ukraine also discussed
In connection with the spring session, an informal discussion was also held on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In her speech, the Vice-President of the Nordic Council, Lulu Ranne, highlighted the huge support that Ukraine received at the Nordic Council’s theme session last week.
She also stressed the importance of international co-operation in response to the Russian invasion.
“The Nordic, Baltic, and Benelux countries have been close partners for a long time. The war and the ongoing military and political crisis in Europe only serve to underline the importance of having close European friends. We share common values and respect for human life, and the Nordic Council, together with the Baltic Assembly and the Benelux Parliament, always stand up for peace, democracy, human rights and peace,” said Lulu Ranne.
Ranne also pointed out that although we need “statements”, concrete measures are even more important.
“We politicians have the opportunity to do much more, and together with our friends in the Baltic and Benelux countries, we stand in a stronger position to help the Ukrainian people much better than by acting alone.”
In addition to Lulu Ranne, the Nordic Council was represented by Presidium member Hanna Katrín Friðriksson.
Joint statement of the Baltic Assembly, the Benelux Parliament and the Nordic Council on digitalisation
- All over the world, developments in the field of digitalisation (including artificial intelligence) are rapidly accelerating to the benefit of citizens and the green transition.
- Digitalisation offers many opportunities, but they require a debate about public values, fundamental rights, protection of the individual and how countries, administrations and citizens should deal with these developments.
- Co-operation between countries and regions concerning digitalisation is important both for systems to be operable in an ever more connected and globalised world, but also to learn from each other through co-operation and innovative solutions. Co-operation in Europe will also help to strengthen Europe’s position in the field of digitalisation, not least through the European Union, which has made digitalisation one of its main priorities and in 2020 launched the strategy “Europe Fit for the Digital Age”. Furthermore, a fragmented approach leads to higher costs and undesirable differences and border effects between countries.
- The Baltic, Benelux and the Nordic states have all demonstrated their ambitions in the field of digitalisation. For example, in 2016 the prime ministers of the three Benelux Member States issued a joint statement underlining the ambition and potential of the three countries to be digital pioneers and to act as role models in promoting the digital single market within the European Union. In October 2020, the ministers responsible for digital development in the Nordic and Baltic countries adopted The Ministerial Declaration Digital North 2.0 that builds on the common priorities of the Nordic-Baltic countries and follows the previous ministerial declaration, Digital North 2017-2020, the Nordic Prime Ministers’ 5G Letter of Intent, the Nordic-Baltic AI Declaration, and the vision for the Nordic Council of Ministers, Our Vision 2030.
- The three parliamentary assemblies have actively taken up the theme of digitalisation. The Baltic Assembly adopted several recommendations on artificial intelligence and digitalisation in 2020. For example, one of the recommendations deals with the development of common digital infrastructure in the three Baltic states. The Nordic Countries have launched a common vision for 2030 which has a goal of being the most integrated region in the world, including digital integration. This can only be achieved by working with like-minded regions and partners. At the end of 2019, the Benelux Parliament adopted a recommendation entitled “The Benelux as a digital forerunner in Europe”.
- The Baltic Assembly, the Benelux Parliament and the Nordic Council declare that they want to co-operate and exchange experiences concerning developments in the field of digitalisation, jointly identify challenges in the field of digitalisation, and learn from each other’s solutions to strengthen parliamentary co-operation.
- The Baltic Assembly, the Benelux Parliament and the Nordic Council are further shaping the co-operation on digitalisation by informing each other of the recommendations they have adopted and of relevant developments in their regions by inviting each other to meetings on the theme of digitalisation, such as the recent webinar hosted by the Nordic Council and the European Parliament in March 2021 on digitalisation. The three parliamentary assemblies are also welcoming joint activities in the field of digitalisation.
- The Nordic Council was established in 1952 and is the Nordic Region’s official inter-parliamentary body. It has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.
- The Benelux Parliament is a parliamentary co-operation body between Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. It was formed in 1955 and consists of 49 members.
- The Baltic Assembly is a parliamentary co-operation body composed of members from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It was formed in 1991.