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Initiative to strengthen Nordic cooperation in the IT area

| Text: Berit Kvam and Gunhild Wallin

The Nordic countries cannot rest on their laurels just because they have had success with the new technology. If IT is to be accessible to all, a joint effort and cooperation between the Nordic countries is needed, says Lennart Daleus, leader of the Swedish Centre party and member of the European Committee of the Nordic Council.

It is a common aim in all the Nordic countries that as many people as possible should have access to the new technology. That is the background for the IT report prepared by the European Committee of the Nordic Council, which will be presented during the session of the Nordic Council in Reykjavik in the autumn. The aim is to formulate a common Nordic platform for future cooperation in the area of the new technology.

After that, it will be up to each country to decide what to do.Lennart Daleus

«The Nordic countries play a major role in cooperation in the IT area. All Nordic countries have a high level of use of computers and the Internet. We have a high overall level of education and an infrastructure that runs relatively smoothly. We have a homogeneity that enables us to jointly form a platform we can use as a starting point,» says Lennart Daleus.

Currently, the Nordic countries are the foremost in the world, both in terms of developing new technology and in utilising the new technology. The density of mobile telephones is high – new figures show, for instance, that Iceland has the greatest density of mobile telephones in the world. It is closely followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Access to PCs is also high, compared with most other countries in the world. The aim of this report from the European Committee of the Nordic Council is also to safeguard and develop this prominent position.

By cooperating in the IT area, the Nordic countries will be able to establish themselves as a major, dynamic and advanced region within the new economy. IT also needs to be used to reinforce the Nordic countries’ position as a region with a high, consistent level of education, and as pioneers in the use of the new technology to renew social services.

Lennart Daleus contends that the Nordic countries cannot rest on their laurels just because everything looks good at the moment.

«There is a danger that we think that things currently look good, but we mustn’t forget that it is considerably easier to expand the infrastructure in many other countries that are not as sparsely populated and not as long and narrow as several of the Nordic countries are,» says Lennart Daleus.

He asserts that the overriding success factor is the infrastructure, and reckons that it is not enough to depend on the telephone network or radio-based Internet. In order to achieve the same accessibility and speed expansion of broadband is required, and it is here where governments need to be active.

«Currently, the roll-out of fibre-optic networks is being done on a commercial basis, but how profitable is it to roll out a network forty kilometres north of Villhelmina, for instance? I am convinced that the government must take some responsibility, otherwise there will be a collapse in developments, » says Lennart Daleus.

He considers there is much to be gained from Nordic cooperation.

«In our long and narrow countries, it is important to have networks that extend across national boundaries in order to reduce vulnerability,» he says.

The report includes a number of proposals that have the aim of strengthening Nordic cooperation in the IT area. One of the proposals is that a steering group be set up in the Nordic Council of Ministers, that a high level group be attached to it and that an advisory group be set up under the European Committee of the Nordic Council. It is also proposed that next year’s theme conference should deal with IT and the knowledge society. There are also proposals for a study of infrastructures and the set-up of a «free» Nordic network in order to encourage training and learning. IT should also lead to increased understanding between the Nordic countries; partly through cooperative groups but also by enhancing the development of technology to translate from one Nordic language to another. IT should also be used to disseminate knowledge about the Nordic democratic models.



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