eGovernmnet for more efficiency, equality and democracy

A general view of the conference on the “Connecting Europe Facility".

A general view of the conference on the “Connecting Europe Facility”.

At the fifth Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Malmö, (Sweden) the 27 EU ministers, responsible for administrative affairs, outlined a joint vision and policy priorities on how to developing smarter online public services for citizens and businesses by 2015. The EU Commission hailed this agreement and commented that eGovernment is a key step towards boosting Europe’s competitiveness.

The idea is to create a borderless and functional EU digital administrative area, exactly in the same way as the internal market functions for material goods. It is an irony seeing real economy markets to function smoothly in the EU area, and the eGovernment space to continue being fragmented, despite the fact that the digital universe “per se” has no borders. The problem is that there are huge differences between the 27 member states, concerning their achievements in the eGovernment front.

According to the EU Commission:“The empowerment of citizens and businesses is already supported today by a large number of eGovernment services. Recent figures from the eighth benchmarking report ordered by the European Commission on eGovernment in Europe, released today at the fifth ministerial conference, indicate that the quality and availability of online government services have been on the rise in Europe in the last two years: 71% of the public services measured are fully available online through portals or websites, while this was only 59% in 2007. Austria, Malta, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Slovenia are leading countries in the assessment of availability of services. Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia are making important progress but differences across Europe remain significant”.

Key targets in this domain are:

*Reduce the administrative cost on trans-border activities, like setting up business, studying, working, residing and retiring within Europe, to increase mobility.

*Create a smooth environment for the SMEs to participate in public procurement procedures all over the EU through eProcurement.

*Gain full competitive returns from establishing a seamless EU market for services.

*Reduce the risks of abuses and fraud in the public administration, using uniform digital control mechanisms and installing similar paperless procedures all over the EU to serve citizens and businesses.

*Increase equality of opportunities and raising democratic standards for all EU citizens and business, vis-à-vis the 27 state authorities and the regional administrations

2011-2015 action plan

According to the European Action Plan 2011-2015 agreed by the EU 27 ministers in Sweden on 19 November 2009, the combination of all these efforts should lead to an increase of the take-up of eGovernment services. By 2015, 50% of citizens should use eGovernment. The target envisaged for businesses is 80% by 2015.

Apart the economic competitiveness and anti-fraud gains from a functional seamless eGovernment environment in the EU, there will be more positive repercussions in reinforcing equality of opportunities for citizens and business. Digital administrative procedures leave no room for unduly influences in work opportunities within the public sector, while empower SMEs from another member state or another region to compete with the locals on equal terms.

No wonder why eGovernment and the EU digital agenda encounter strong reactions, from protectionist circles on national and regional levels. Overcoming those obstacles however will not only strengthen equality between citizens but it will also raise the democratic standards within the EU.

 

Digital agenda for Europe: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/ict-public-services

eGovernment: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/node/1033

 

 

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