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Making online services work for citizens and businesses - 20/12/2010

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Five-year plan to boost internet-based public services, saving people time and money and raising EU competitiveness.

While the growth of the internet has cut down on paperwork, not all public services have taken full advantage of its potential. The eGovernment Action Plan is intended to increase the number of administrative and bureaucratic tasks that can be done online. The goal is to cut red tape and hassle, and help governments offer the best possible service at no extra cost.

The plan’s target is for 50% of citizens and 80% of businesses to use internet-based government services by 2015.

EU countries will work together and with the Commission to develop e-government services that reach across the bloc. Together, they will tackle, in particular, the additional burdens people and businesses face when living outside their home country – a hindrance to the EU’s economic competitiveness.

Citizens

Tasks like registering a birth or paying taxes could in the future be done in the comfort of one’s own home. Those without an internet connection would be able to access online services via their TV, telephone or mobile device.

Online services could also help those who want to move between EU member countries. For example, one of the plan’s priorities is to develop ways for students to enroll online at any university in the EU. By making it just as easy to study abroad as at home, students will be encouraged to consider foreign universities. A pilot project for this scheme is already underway involving five EU countries.

Citizens would be able to actively participate in the policy-making process through online debates and consultations.

Businesses

Businesses would save time and money by doing much of their administration, like company registration, without leaving the office.  Cross-border online services would help entrepreneurs and firms to set up shop and expand into other EU countries.

Member countries will now devise a series of cross-border online public services to be phased in between 2012 and 2015. In parallel, the Commission will assess how online services can reduce governments’ carbon footprint.

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