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The IDABC Most Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

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What is IDABC?
When did IDABC start and how has it evolved?
How does IDABC work?
Who can benefit from the IDABC Programme?
To what extent is IDABC accessible to Candidate Countries?
EU administrations have their own eGovernment targets to meet. How can they benefit from the transnational dimension of IDABC?
How does IDABC contribute to the achievements of the eEurope initiative objectives?
How can IT vendors get involved with IDABC?
How to get funds from IDABC?
How can I obtain more information about the IDABC Programme?

What is IDABC?

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IDABC
, which stands for the Interchange of Data between Administrations, is a Community Programme managed by the European Commission's Directorate General for Informatics. IDABC supports the implementation of EU legislation, from internal market regulations to consumer and health policies, by facilitating the exchange of information between public administrations across Europe through the use of information technology.
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When did IDA / IDABC start and how has it evolved?


In 1994, a Council Resolution underlined the need for enhanced synergies between European and national information systems. In response, the IDA Programme was established with a Community Decision in 1995. The Programme's primary objective was to set up IT empowered networks for information exchanges in the different community policy areas. In this way, the IDA Programme pioneered the use of IT in public administrations and facilitated the transition from paper-based to electronic exchanges across Europe.

The IDA Programme has constantly evolved in line with the changing political priorities of the EU. In 1999, two interrelated Decisions signalled the start of a second phase of the Programme (IDA II) until the end of 2004. The 'Projects of Common Interest' (PCIs) Decision continued to extend the implementation of networks in different Community policy areas while the 'Interoperability' or Horizontal Actions and Measures (HAMs) Decision focused on measures and services to be applied and used to ensure seamless interaction within and across networks at the trans-European level.

Within the context of the eEurope Action Plans and associated eGovernment initiatives, the IDA Programme has profiled itself as an eGovernment programme. This means that the emphasis has been increasingly moving from 'networks' to 'services', i.e. putting the results of the pan-European administrative networks to the service of European citizens and businesses. This trend has been enshrined in the new IDABC Decision that will enter into force in January 2005.
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How does IDABC work?

IDABC works through the implementation of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs), which focus on the use of IT solutions for specific sectors, and Horizontal Actions and Measures (HAMs), which cover cross-sector networks, services and tools.

The IDABC Programme is managed by the Directorate General for Informatics, working in close cooperation with the Member States represented at the IDABC Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC) and the different European Commission's services represented in the IDABC Inter-Service Group. Cooperation with the TAC ensures overall coordination of the Programme, budget allocation and the establishment of a yearly work programme. Concrete discussions and decisions relative to HAMs and PCIs are respectively performed through the TAC-WHAM (Working Group on Horizontal Actions and Measures) and the Inter-Service Group.

PCIs are run under the primary responsibility of the relevant policy or administrative sector. They start with a preparatory phase and are followed by a feasibility study. The feasibility phase results in a Global Implementation Plan (GIP) which presents the aims and describes the approach that should be followed. Once a GIP has been approved both by the relevant sector committee and the TAC, the projects can be fully developed and implemented.

HAMs are run under the responsibility of the IDABC Unit. They are defined on the basis of proposals made by Member States' Administrations through their TAC representative or by other Commission services. Once the projects have been achieved, they are available to Member States' Administrations and other IDABC networks.
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Who can benefit from the IDABC Programme?


The primary beneficiaries of the IDABC Programme are public administrations, in particular national authorities and European institutions.
By providing expertise - a forum for information exchange and funding for IT solutions - IDABC helps the administrations improve the efficiency of their existing networks. IDABC also offers generic services, common tools and guidelines that facilitate interoperability across European borders. A number of these tools and services such as CIRCA, eLink, the IDABC Architecture Guidelines and the European Interoperability Framework are also made available for use by regional and local authorities.

Citizens and enterprises are also increasingly benefiting from the various IDABC projects, either by using directly some of the IDABC networks, e.g. Ploteus, Solvit, or by enjoying more open and efficient public services. The PLOTEUS Portal, for example, provides a single access point to all sites on learning opportunities across Europe. Furthermore, it gives practical information on taxation, cost of living, recognition of diplomas, and other aspects of living in a foreign country. Citizens and businesses can also refer to SOLVIT, an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism, to help them assert their internal market rights and tackle issues rapidly and pragmatically without having to resort to legal action.

In addition, since the IDABC programme carries out its projects on the basis of market-available solutions, IT and service providers can benefit directly from the Programme by participating in the open calls for tenders.
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To what extent is IDABC accessible to Candidate Countries?


Participation of a Candidate Country in IDABC is subject to the signature of an IDABC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). A MoU defines the general principles of the Candidate Country's participation in the IDABC Programme and allows
the European Commission and the competent national authorities to determine the specific terms and conditions of such participation.

Practically all countries which have recently joined the European Union have already been active participants in the IDABC Programme prior to their Accession. Signature of MoU started in 2002 with Poland and Slovenia and was followed by other countries in the course of 2003. As defined by the Accession Treaty, the ten new EU members became full IDABC members as from the first of January 2004.

The three current Candidate Countries, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey have already signed their respective MoUs and the IDABC Programme intends to remain open for new candidates to come.
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EU administrations have their own eGovernment targets to meet. How can they benefit
from the transnational dimension of IDABC?


The IDABC Programme facilitates the achievement of the EU administrations eGovernment targets through several interrelated means. Firstly, by providing common software tools and generic telematic services, it reduces the risk that each EU administration develops its own networks in a costly manner or in ways that are incompatible with those of other administrations.

Secondly, on the basis of the experience gained through the constant interaction with EU administrations, IDABC issues periodically a set of guidelines in relation to different IT related developments. For example, the guidelines offer practical and detailed recommendations on how to establish interoperable trans-European networks or how to assess the opportunity and feasibility of a migration to Open Source.

Finally, the IDABC Programme offers the possibility for public administrations to regularly meet, discuss and share their mutual knowledge and experience and hence identify and disseminate best practices.

In combining all these elements IDABC facilitates cross-border cooperation for national administrations, citizens and businesses and helps deliver the same quality of public services to all European citizens.
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How does IDABC contribute to the achievements of the eEurope initiative objectives?


The eEurope 2005 Action Plan is a wide-ranging initiative aiming at harnessing the power of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to provide a favourable environment for private investment, job creation and productivity growth in Europe, while modernising public services and giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the Information Society.

IDABC plays a key role in reaching the eEurope 2005 objectives, more particularly in the field of eGovernment. These objectives include, among others: the provision of interactive public services accessible to all; the availability of broadband connections for all public administrations; the carrying out of a significant part of public procurement by electronic means; and the definition of an interoperability framework to support the delivery of pan-European eGovernment services.

IDABC contributes to the policy frameworks, electronic networks and software tools necessary to reach these objectives. It enables public administrations in the Member States and at EU level to exchange data electronically in order to implement European legislation and policies, thus participating in the creation of a pan-European eGovernment infrastructure. Moreover, the increasing importance of eGovernment for Europe's future and the growing need for interoperability of public services in the single market have led the programme to shift its focus towards the provision of pan-European eGovernment services for administrations, citizens and businesses.

This new focus will be confirmed with ID's replacement programme IDABC (Interoperable Delivery of pan-European eGovernment Services to Public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens), which will as of 2005, become the main vehicle for the delivery of eEurope's objectives in the field of eGovernment services.
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How can IT vendors get involved with IDABC?

IT vendors know best which way technology and market are evolving, and their expertise is crucial to IDABC. One of the guiding principles of IDABC is vendor-neutrality, and much importance is attached to open standards as a means of achieving interoperability in a multi-vendor environment.

Many of IDABC's activities are carried out by companies under contract. In order not to give unfair advantage to individual companies wishing to bid for the Programme's call for tenders, IDABC pursues a policy of transparency and non-discrimination. This means that IDABC does not engage in bilateral meetings with individual industry players. Instead, IT companies wishing to raise specific issues with IDABC are recommended to form interest groups with other industry actors (associations, consortia) or to invite IDABC to open events organised by them. IDABC also welcomes any written documentation that may guide its implementation activities.

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How to get funds from IDABC?

IDABC currently funds 75 projects and actions from Member States, Candidate, and EFTA Countries. The average budget is around € 25 million per year.

IDABC provides financing for all phases leading up to the implementation of a project. However, operational costs are not covered by the Programme. The IDABC unit prepares a yearly work programme on the basis of the proposals prepared by the different European Commission services wishing to participate in the Programme. The Work Programme is then submitted to the TAC Committee and subsequently adopted by the Commission.

Direct participation to the IDABC programme is limited to the public administrations. IDABC is in fact a Commission-driven programme not comparable to programmes such as eTEN, eContent or IST. While the latter are cost-share programmes allowing consortia to send in proposals for evaluation and possible funding, the realisation of the different projects and actions in IDABC is exclusively done by the Commission via public tendering.

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How can I obtain more information about the IDABC Programme?

More information about the IDABC Programme is available on this website or can be obtained by sending inquires directly to idabc@ec.europa.eu.

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