Estonia keen to host EU's future IT agency: minister
IT-savvy Estonia, which already hosts NATO's cyber-defence centre, is also keen to draw the European Union's future IT agency, the country's foreign minister said Friday.
"Estonia hopes that the European Union's IT agency will be set up here," Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Friday, after meeting Alexander Alvaro, shadow rapporteur of the European Parliament.
Estonia is competing with France to become the new EU agency's host state and the tiny Baltic nation has said it is willing to invest about 20 million euros (24 million dollars) in the project should its bid win.
Paet also said that should Estonia be chosen as the host country, it might be possible to agree technical cooperation with France within the agency framework.
"We are fully ready for cooperation with France on that matter," Paet said.
A member of the European Union since 2004 and with a population of just 1.3 million people, Estonia is one of the world's most wired nations, earning it the nickname "E-Stonia".
The 27-member European Union's decision to open an IT agency was made last year when most EU countries found that the bloc's IT systems needed some form of central management.
The new agency is expected to become operational in 2012. The host country will be selected by the European Council. Besides Estonia, only France has submitted a proposal to host the new EU project.
After breaking free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia adopted a policy of rapid online development in the government and private sectors.
Most Estonians' day-to-day dealings with the authorities take place in cyberspace, and the country has also pioneered online voting.
© 2010 AFP