The UK and Estonia have signed a memorandum of understanding on digital government, which will see the two countries work together on developing public services that are "digital by default".

The MoU says the two countries will promote contacts, exchanges of public officials and experts, and the organisation of joint events. There will also be the sharing of knowledge and capability in the design, architecture and security of public information systems, with the initiation of joint pilot projects.

There will also be collaboration to ensure that both countries "have effective capability and development streams when developing digital public services".

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "Estonia is one of the most connected countries in the world and a trailblazer in public sector ICT and cyber security.

"I was hugely impressed when I visited Estonia last year by how much of government there is online, with e-voting, e-health, e-schools, and virtually all tax returns completed on line in minutes."

Maude said: "In the UK we have embarked on a similar journey to create digital public services that are so good people will prefer to use them."

The government unveiled its digital strategy at the end of last year, where it plans to digitise thousands of transactions carried out by the public every day, in a bid to save up to £1.7 billion a year after 2015.

The goal was outlined in The Civil Service Reform Plan, which, with digital ambitions at the heart of the plan, aimed to set out how the UK civil service can change to work and deliver services more efficiently.

The Estonia MoU was signed at the recent Northern Future Forum in Riga, Latvia, by Liam Maxwell, government chief technology officer, on behalf of the UK Government Digital Service (GDS); and Jaan Priisalu, director-general of the Estonian Information Systems' Authority (RIA).

The Northern Future Forum is an annual informal meeting of prime ministers, policy innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the UK.