Six months on...

Published on 19/04/2016, as part of a package of initiatives related to the realisation of the Digital Single Market (DSM), the new eGovernment Action Plan is now six months into its life. And, it has been an eventful six months indeed.

 

Launched by Commissioner Oettinger, the Commission put forward 20 concrete measures for accelerating the digital transformation of government in the EU. Admitting that people and businesses are still not reaping the full benefit from digital public services which should be available seamlessly across the EU, the eGovernment Action Plan will modernise digital public services and make the EU a better place to live, work and invest.

 

On 26/05/2016 the Council adopted the Conclusions on Digital Single Market technologies and public services modernisation during the Dutch Presidency. The Conclusions welcomed the eGovernment Action Plan to coordinate national efforts and to launch joint actions and acknowledged the potential of seamless cross-border and digital public services and the use of public e-services across borders for competitiveness, a more effective functioning of the EU Single Market, and addressing social challenges.

 

The eGovernment Conference 'Digital and Open Government – next step to maturity', on 02-03/06/2016 organised by the Dutch Presidency formally launched the eGOV4EU platform to facilitate the emergence of new ideas for action. The conference conclusions highlight the main discussion points, which included the recognition that a new relationship between governments and citizens/businesses is developing, which is increasingly digital by default, open by default and more user centred and user driven. The conference highlighted the importance of better (re)use of available data, of the implementation of the ‘once only’ principle and of data-driven governments.

 

The Council Conclusions on the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020, adopted at the General Affairs Council on 20/09/2016 during the Slovak Presidency welcome the policy priorities as well as the specific actions of the Action Plan which aim to accelerate the digital transformation of governments with ICT by using the key digital enablers, facilitating cross-border mobility with interoperable and secure end-to-end digital public services and facilitating digital interaction between administrations and citizens or businesses. They also welcome the dynamic and open nature of the Action Plan, recognising the need to adapt to the rapidly changing technological environment and allowing stakeholders, including public administrations at all levels, to suggest adjustments to the Plan.

 

The Economic and Social Committee – through its opinion adopted in their plenary on 22/09/2016 - also supports the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 aimed at speeding up implementation of efficient, interoperable and universally accessible eGovernment. The Committee welcomes and supports the principles, policy priorities and individual measures of the Action Plan. Among other remarks, the Committee calls on the Commission to prepare an overview of citizens' rights for interacting with public administrations in the digital era.

 

The Digital Champions have published the Bratislava Statement on 28/09/2016, which considers eGovernment as a key policy area that can deliver significant value for its users, point to a closer and cross-border cooperation among all levels of public administrations in the Member States and stress the open nature of the eGovernment Action Plan, where new actions can be added upon agreement of Member States and public participations.

 

The first meeting of the eGovernment Action Plan Steering Board, the Action Plan's main governance body, convened and chaired by DG CONNECT, was held on 28/09/2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia, on the occasion of the Digital Assembly 2016. The Steering Board is composed of Member States' representatives responsible for their national eGovernment strategies. Following the suggestions of the Committee of the Regions to be included in the eGovernment Action Plan Steering Board in order to ensure that the discussions reflect the local and regional dimension, they will participate in future Steering Board meetings as observers.

 

The opinion of the Committee of the Regions adopted on 12/10/2016 also welcomes the Action Plan's overall vision and its aim of removing existing digital barriers to the single market and preventing further fragmentation arising in the context of the modernisation of public administrations. It highlights the key importance of local and regional administrations, both in modernising administrations as the creators and administrators of digital infrastructure and services in areas of importance for society, and in taking responsibility for directly providing their residents with services shaped to meet expectations in an increasingly digitalised world.

 

In the meantime we have been also talking to our stakeholders… The 1st workshop since the adoption of the new eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 took place on 20/09/2016, jointly organised by the SEDEC Secretariat of the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission (DG CONNECT). It was emphasised that the eGovernment Action Plan is useful for all levels of administration - European, national, regional and local - and we started working with regional and local actors to engage them in its future shape and implementation. Public administrations and leading engaged citizens and businesses from across Europe were invited to submit needs and ideas for action on the eGovernment4EU platform.

 

An eventful 6 months indeed. We are now looking forward to the closure of the first cycle of idea submission… We are planning to take stock of all the proposed ideas and support information posted on the platform by the end of November 2016. Proposers with sufficiently mature ideas may be invited to discuss their proposals with the European Commission and Member States.

 

So, tell us your needs, propose ideas for action - we can all contribute to the efforts of modernising public services fit for the future!