History of the Institute
The cooperation between Estonia and Finland officially started in 2013 when the Prime Ministers of Estonia and Finland, Andrus Ansip and Jyrki Katainen, signed the Memorandum of Understanding initiating formal cooperation between the two states in respect of developing and maintaining a software environment enabling secure connectivity, searches and data transfers between various governmental and private databases – the X-Road. This is considered to be the world’s first digitally signed international agreement.
Deepening the cooperation
Subsequently, the Population Register Centre of Finland (VRK) and the Information System Authority of Estonia (RIA) concluded a Cooperation Agreement with an intention to formalise the cooperation relating to X-Road and work as a contractual platform for deepening cooperation.
Finland's Population Register Centre and the Republic of Estonia's Information System Authority were responsible for the coordination of the X-Road core development and a set of practices and guidelines were agreed for managing the cooperation. Another important outcome of the collaboration was publishing the source code of the X-Road core as open source under the MIT license. The source code was published in two parts in 2015–2016 and it was made publicly available on GitHub.
The Parties decided to deepen the cooperation in a more formal yet flexible manner by forming a separate jointly managed special purpose organisation to administer the X-Road development – the Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS).
The Formation and Cooperation Agreement on this was signed by Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology of Estonia Urve Palo and Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen in Helsinki on 7 March 2017 during the state visit of the President of Estonia, H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid and her spouse Mr. Georgi-Rene Maksimovski.
The parties to the agreement are the Ministry of Finance of Finland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia. Minister Mykkänen signed the agreement under the authority of Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms of Finland Anu Vehviläinen, the minister responsible for the digitalisation of public services.
The Memorandum of Association was signed on 14th June 2017 and the institute started its operations in August 2017.
Joint X-Road core development
In June 2018 the NIIS took over the X-Road core development from Finland's Population Register Centre and the Republic of Estonia's Information System Authority. The first step of the handover was already completed earlier in 2018 when the NIIS took the responsibility of running the Working Group that is the platform for day-to-day coordination of the joint development. In June 2018 NIIS took over the management of the source code of the X-Road core as well.