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December 2, 2015

EU pushes for Digital Single Market, outlines e-government plans

News: Commission highlights the success of the UK’s digital strategy.

By Joao Lima

The European Commission wants member states to adopt digital technologies and has started to work on a five-year e-goverment action plan to bring down barriers across the continent.

The 2016-2020 plan, part of the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy, wants to make digital the "new normal" for governments within the commission’s borders.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Luxembourg, Andrus Ansip, VP of the Digital Single Market, outlined a set of principles on which the eGoverment plan will be based.

He said that the project will bring down digital barriers between EU public services by introducing cross-border services by default.

It will also accelerate member states’ transition to full e-procurement and interoperable e-signatures, while also reforming EU institutions’ own digital set-up and procedures.

The plan, built on openness and transparency, will support interoperability for public administrations, make interconnections between business registers a reality by 2017 and support access to digital services in member states. It also plans to look at specific areas such as transport, health and the judiciary.


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Andrus Ansip, VP of the Digital Single Market

Ansip said: "My vision for public administration in Europe is this: open, transparent and collaborative governments that make life easier for people and businesses. Designed around digital delivery of public goods. No more borders.

"Government can be as much a barrier as an enabler. Government can be exclusive or inclusive. Government can be expensive or efficient.

"Digital is the means to make government inclusive and efficient, an enabler for private enterprise."

Ansip also said that nearly 40% of the EU’s internet users choose not to access public services digitally due to poor usability and lack of transparency, which "needs to be reversed". He said: "The major underlying issue is trust. Or rather, the lack of it."

The new strategy for e-government will be built on the principles abovementioned, but also around existing examples from member states like the UK.

Ansit said: "Some real European success stories [include] the UK, who saves £1.8 billion a year thanks to its ‘digital by default‘ strategy."

He also praised London’s openness to share public transport data with third parties, which led the capital to "benefit largely from better uptake and development of services".


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