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Connecting the EU-25



On 1 May 2004, 10 new Member States from Central Europe and the Mediterranean joined the European Union. Having helped to prepare this historic enlargement, IDA is now playing an important role in deploying and expanding the electronic networks and services needed to make it successful. By securely connecting public administrations across the continent, IDA is indeed building the electronic backbone of the New Europe.

Supporting the accession process

IDA has been actively working with the new Member States since the completion of their accession negotiations in 2002. Even before their formal accession to the EU on 1 May 2004, a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) had been negotiated and signed with most of them, enabling them to fully take part in the IDA Programme and benefit from IDA networks and services.

For the new Member States, the Memoranda’s terms and conditions have now been superseded by the general provisions governing the IDA Programme (effective from 1 January 2004). But their early participation in IDA, as well as in a number of other Community programmes, has been a key part of the pre-accession strategy designed to prepare them for full EU membership. The same strategy is now applied to the remaining candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), which have also signed Memoranda to participate in IDA.

Participation in the IDA Programme has enabled new Member States to familiarise themselves with the European dimension of e-government, use the services made available by the IDA Programme and connect to the EU-wide infrastructure for electronic interchange of data between public administrations. Participation in IDA has thus provided them with decisive support for both implementing EU legislation and delivering their respective e-government programmes.

Communicating IDA benefits

In order to fully inform newly participating countries about IDA’s mission and activities, a series of communication activities have been undertaken. In particular, a series of information meetings (or ‘Info Days’) were organised to introduce IDA and its major components to public administrations, raise awareness (both technical and administrative) about IDA tools and services, and assess readiness for taking part in the programme.

The latest of these Info Days took place in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on 20 April 2004, where IDA officials and representatives of the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior and of the State Enterprise Infostruktura (operator of the State Data Communication Network VIKT) presented the IDA Programme and its services, as well as the practical details of Lithuania’s participation. As a sign of the strong interest generated, Infostruktura even prepared a Lithuanian translation of the IDA Catalogue, a publication with detailed information about IDA projects.




Building Europe’s e-government backbone

Info Days organised so far have shown that the level of interest for IDA activities is high in the new Member States. In particular, all of them have connected their national administrations to TESTA, the IDA-funded pan-European network that provides a secure environment for information exchange between public administrations. Connections to TESTA, established either directly with individual administrations or through national administrative networks, provide connectivity services based on an IP VPN backbone network.

To further enhance TESTA’s role as a key building block of Europe’s e-government drive, IDA has already started work on the next-generation network, to be deployed under the forthcoming IDABC Programme due to start in 2005. Known as s-TESTA, the future network will provide a secure, flexible and resilient “communication platform”, consolidating other existing European networks and linking even more administrations.



Article published in the IDA Report 22 - June 2004