A Charter for Points of Single Contact (PSCs), based on what was announced in June 2012, was submitted to Member States for endorsement in June 2013. Member States were invited to move PSCs into next-generation e-government portals and to subscribe to the principles for assessing the PSCs on a regular basis in accordance with the Charter's criteria.
What is the problem? Most online public services do not work across borders
Business and citizens still face too many administrative obstacles when trying to access cross-border services in other EU countries. But services are crucial to the European internal market as they account for over 70% of jobs and economic activity in the EU.
Why is EU action necessary? Remove administrative burdens to access cross-border services
The Services Directive eliminates national barriers to trade in services EU-wide. The Services Directive obliged Member States to establish "Points of Single Contact" (PSCs) by end 2009. The PSCs are a single gateway for businesses in their transactions with public administrations. They must help businesses to obtain online all information relevant to their activities and to complete all procedures and formalities with public administrations electronically. It is the first time that Member States have a legal obligation to put in place online public services that have to be accessible within a Member State as well as across borders.
Under DAE Action 90, the PSCs need to develop into fully fledged eGovernment centres that respond to the needs of businesses, beyond what is required under the Services Directive, so that businesses can finish procedures electronically in the same Member State or abroad.
What has the Commission done so far?
- The Commission carried out a study on the PSCs. It tested how user-friendly and how well the PSCs function, including the electronic completion of procedures. It has also identified the main problems and how these could be solved.
- Published the report on the functioning and usability of the Points of Single Contact under the Services Directive – State of Play and Way Forward is the first comprehensive study assessing the level of development of the Points of Single Contacts created by the Services Directive. The study looked at the key aspects of the functioning of the Points of Single Contact, identified good practices and highlighted gaps and formulated policy recommendations for follow – up actions where improvements could be made. The final report is available here.
- Member States continued working on their PSCs in cooperation with the Commission, in particular on the cross-border aspects of electronic procedures. Member States disseminated the knowledge and expertise produced by the Large Scale Pilot project SPOCS (Simple Procedures Online for Cross-border Services), which aims to improve the cross-border use of eDocuments, eDelivery and content syndication. In particular, during 2011 and 2012, six promotional events showcased the work and achievements of SPOCs.
- In April 2013 the Commission launched eSens, a new Large Scale Pilot on Basic Cross Sector Services. This Pilot focused on all the building blocks developed by other Large Scale Pilots, including SPOCS. It will consolidate building blocks for cross-border interoperability of public services that must be reusable by public authorities, business and citizens.
Overall, the eSens work is progressing according to plan.