Keynote speech by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel - Connecting Europe with Building Blocks


Commissioner Mariya Gabriel delivered the keynote speech at 'Connecting Europe with Building Blocks: Making the Digital Single Market a Reality' on 7 December 2017.

Below is a transcript of her speech (check against delivery).


"Honourable Member of the European Parliament,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

As the European Union prepares to enter negations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (shaping EU expenditure for the upcoming years), it is important for us to remind ourselves of the real value of the European project and concrete benefits for European citizens, businesses and public administrations.

In this spirit, we have gathered here today to learn about how the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks help build cross-border digital public services for the benefit of all.

In the digital age, the European Commission and EU Member States have developed and piloted common standards and technical specifications – a Digital Acquis – which is at the heart of the Building Blocks.

Today, you will hear inspiring testimonials about how the Building Blocks support policy at the European, national and local level and foster the implementation of European legislation.

You will also hear about future Building Blocks and how new Building Blocks are fundamental to extending an interoperable digital ecosystem in Europe.

Where are we now?

President Juncker made establishing a connected Digital Single Market one of the European Commission's 10 political priorities. Through the Digital Single Market initiative, the EU is ensuring that the digital transformation is an opportunity for European citizens, businesses and Member States and I see the Building Blocks as an important element of it.

The Building Blocks – you know that we currently have: eDelivery, eID, eSignature, eInvoicing and eTranslation – make it easier to interconnect complex digital services and IT systems across Europe, creating a Digital Single Market.  

They offer basic capabilities that can be reused in any European project to facilitate the delivery of digital public services across borders and sectors. The Building Blocks are common elements built on common standards and technical specifications.

Just as the Acquis Communitaire provides common rules for the Single Market, the Building Blocks are – as standards and technical specifications – in effect common rules supporting the creation of the Digital Single Market.


Commissioner Gabriel addressed representatives of both the private and public sectors


The Building Blocks are common elements that can be easily rearranged and combined to create pan-European digital services such as eHealth or eJustice. Such common elements are essential for the provision of digital public services across borders.

The CEF Building Blocks are currently being deployed throughout Europe.

Just for example. Currently, 246 eDelivery Access Points have been set up across Europe, allowing for the secure exchange of data between Member States and business. There are now 166 Qualified Trust Service Providers, able to support interoperable electronic signatures throughout Europe, cutting the time required to sign documents from days to minutes.

There are also multiple examples of Connecting Europe Success Stories. The European e-Justice Portal - which uses all the building blocks apart from eInvoicing is one example. Over 10 million citizens are involved in cross-border judicial procedures each year. That means a far greater need for cooperation between different national judicial systems, and improved access to information on the judicial process in different European countries.

Common, interoperable standards – such as for electronic invoicing – also remove barriers to economic activity across Member States, thus contributing to the wider European economy.

In Denmark, for example, electronic invoicing saves taxpayers €150 million and businesses €50 million a year. If introduced across the EU, annual savings could exceed €50 billion. In Italy alone, e-procurement systems cut over €3 billion in costs. While EU legislation supports the widespread adoption of eInvoicing in Europe by defining a European standard for eInvoicing, the CEF eInvoicing Building Block helps public administrations and business to quickly adopt the European standard.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We can only get the best out of the opportunities offered by digital tools, online networks and digital services if we trust them. People may hesitate to use digital services – maybe not use them at all - if they are not confident that they are reliable, safe and secure.

The CEF Building Blocks are built in compliance with the eIDAS Regulation.

The eIDAS Regulation establishes a regulatory framework to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions between businesses, citizens and public authorities, in order to increase the effectiveness of public and private online services in the EU. 

So how do we move forward?

Europe needs public administrations and services that are modern, flexible and accessible across borders. These are key elements of an open, efficient and inclusive digital economy.

In the EU's Single Market, people are able to move freely – either for work or privately – so they need to be able to access public services outside their home country. IT systems and digital infrastructure are now at the heart of government processes, but efforts are still needed to ensure they continue to improve the delivery of fully digital government services to European citizens.

Gathered in Estonia earlier this year, the national Ministers confirmed their commitment to the vision laid out in the EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 and in the European Interoperability Framework. The Tallinn eGovernment Declaration underlines that there is a need for interoperability by default, reinforcing trust and confidence for building a Digital Single Market in Europe. The Member States even explicitly called on the Commission to prepare proposals on the future (post 2020) and sustainability of existing EU level cross-border digital service infrastructures and building blocks. A mid-term review of the eGovernment Action Plan, in 2018, will be a good occasion to respond to this request and to update the priorities.

The overall vision for digital public administration of the future is to be open, efficient and inclusive and provide borderless, interoperable, personalised, user-friendly, end-to end digital public services to all citizens and businesses.

To conclude, why are the Building Blocks important and why are they fundamental to achieve the Digital Single Market?

Just as the Acquis Communitaire is fundamental to the realisation of the Internal Market, we require a Digital Acquis – common standards and technical specifications – to ensure the realisation of a Digital Single Market. This Digital Acquis will enable pan-European interoperability and the provision of platform-based cross-border public services.

In his summer State of the Union speech, President Juncker outlined an ambitious vision for the future of Europe noting, “Wind is back in Europe’s sails”. We have now the unique opportunity and the obligation to use this momentum and to catch the wind in our sails.

Let us work together and build Europe's digital future."

Last updated on  Dec 20, 2017 17:15

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