Estonian President Ilves – The Fifth Freedom

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves gave a fantastic speech on European political thought, practice, and the failure of European will in the present generation which threatens their own existence. Ilves delved into European populism that exploits the dissatisfaction of citizens, resulting in states creating nationalist policies and programs that have done little to provide stability along the borders of Europe. The US has been effective at exercising stability over Europe, and the region at large, while a European solution has not been present. Ilves mentioned how the United States, India, and China present a greater example of how the digital industrial revolution has provided greater opportunity for Europeans, than Europe due to its disunion and lack of an integral common market. If anything can be noted about European disunion, it is a state level problem that has persisted since the Treaty of Maastrict, not only a supranational problem.

The new solution Ilves proposed is that Europe needs a fifth freedom, the freedom of data – so that data and information is not restricted by institutions such as banks or governments within member states. The choice for Europe, as Ilves puts it, is to become more inclusive – of other Europeans. Ilves shared an example of his digital prescription, where in Estonia, a highly digital society, he can receive his prescription at any pharmacy without a physical paper note from his doctor; outside Estonia, he cannot do the same.  The digital future of Estonia is being ensured through an investment in 5G wireless technologies, online democratic voting, and ongoing focus on the development of ICTs such as Skype. The development a greater digital policies, institutions, and programs is the future not just for Europe but for the global village. The Europe Ilves envisions is one that people around the world perceive as a global leader, rather than a federalist multitude of resurgent Westphalian nationalist myths.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves mentioned Skype, an Estonian invention that now resides in the USA.



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