Behind the numbers: Start up a business in 20 minutes flat

Article published on Feb. 22, 2016
Article published on Feb. 22, 2016

We head to Estonia, where the omnipresence of the Internet does more than contribute to the surveillance of users and to strengthening the hegemony of Google… it also significantly improves the performance of state administration.

It’s interesting how in Estonia – where Internet was much slower to take off compared to other European countries – the web has been used as a tool to further the successful operation of the state. In 2001, only 32% of Estonian’s were online. According to the World Development Report 2016, published by the World Bank, today the country is considered one of the leading e-governments in the world.

Nowadays in Estonia if you want to found your own company, and settle all of the legal formalities connected with the process, it’ll only take you 20 minutes (all online, of course). Also, around 95% of Estonians filed their tax returns online, because it takes less than 5 minutes and does not require the aid of an accountant. Citizens can even exercise their democratic right to vote on the web; 30.5% of the electorate took advantage of this possibility in the 2015 parliamentary elections.  

The Estonian president Toomas Hendrik writes: "That did not happen overnight, and the main reason it did happen was obvious: we felt that without taking on an ambitious digital strategy, we risked building yesterday’s institutions, instead of grasping the technological opportunities of tomorrow."

So when is the rest of Europe going to follow the Estonians and take participation online?

Can you vote using the Internet? You can... in Estonia!

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This article is part of our Behind the Numbers series, illustrating newsworthy stats with artistic design and a brief analysis.