Death of Fax Machines Signals Triumph of Digital Era in Greek Public Services



It is now official: Fax machines will be removed from Greece’s public service offices and governmental communication with citizens will be conducted exclusively online from now on.

The new “Digital State,” as announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, renders fax machines obsolete as Greek governance completes its march into the digital age. Citizens will now interact with the state via the newly launched platform gov.gr — without having to stand in line at state agencies.

Just as every cloud has a silver lining, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the Greek government to accelerate its digitalization of public services, a project which has been in the works for the past few months.

Greece launched the gov.gr platform in recent weeks to finally enable citizens to access state services without leaving their homes. Over 500 different government services, from medical prescriptions to tax clearance documents, can now be processed online, finally putting an end to the country’s infamous crippling red tape.

The new digital bill is citizen-friendly and saves Greeks from the country’s historically endless bureaucratic procedures to acquire even the simplest of documents. A new body called the National Register of Citizen Communications will enable various state agencies to communicate with citizens electronically.

Toward this end, each Greek citizen will receive a unique digital identification number so they can access state services from home and will not even have to use printed documents at all.

Behind the gargantuan project of digitalizing the antiquated Greek public sector is Minister of State and Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis, who has worked tirelessly to put it into effect.

And it was about time. Greece ranked 26th out of all 28 European Union member states — before Brexit — in the 2019 EU Digital Economy and Society Index, based on current societal needs such as internet connectivity, digital public services and integration of digital technology.

So far, the Ministry of Digital Governance played a significant role — in collaboration with other relevant ministries — in keeping the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus to admirably low figures. Greeks not only stayed home, but at the same time they could do their business with the state from home as well, something that was simply unheard of only a few months ago.

Kyriakos Pierrakakis, Greece’s Minister of State and Digital Governance, speaking in Parliament. File photo

Who is Kyriakos Pierrakakis?

The young Minister graduated from the Athens University of Economics and Business in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. From 2005 to 2007 he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, earning a masters degree in Public Policy. From 2007 to 2009 Pierrakakis attended MIT, earning a Master of Science in Technology and Policy.

Upon his return to Greece in 2009, Pierrakakis became president of the Youth Foundation, an organization dealing with youth entrepreneurship. He also served as an advisor to Anna Diamantopoulou at the Ministry of Economy and Development.

Since 2015 Pierrakakis served as Director of Research at Dianeosis, an independent non-profit think tank. Pierrakakis did extensive research and wrote several papers on economic growth and understanding the prevailing perceptions and beliefs among Greeks.

Pierrakakis was elected member of the PASOK Political Committee during its ninth Congress in 2012. In 2014 he ran as a candidate for the European Parliament, receiving 42,814 votes.

During the New Democracy – PASOK coalition government, in power from Oct. 2012 — Jan. 2015, he was member of Greece’s negotiation delegation with the country’s international creditors.

On July 9, 2019 Pierrakakis was appointed Minister of State and Digital Governance by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.