Our society is undergoing a digital transition process leaving the old “analogue’’ world behind and moving to a digital future with innovative services for citizens, businesses and society at large. Public administrations cannot stay behind. The EU has made a lot of progress over the last years to make the digital transformation of public administrations the lighthouse in the pursuit of a more inclusive, competitive and citizen-centric Europe.
The eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 sets out the vision, the principles and actions to increase the efficiency of public administrations until 2020. Last October, the EU Member States and EFTA countries signed the Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment committing to do more and faster putting citizens at the centre of the design and delivery of public services.
The overall performance on eGovernment in the EU is moving in the right direction. Today 58% of EU citizens choose to get in touch with their public administration online and the overall online availability of public services is 82 %. The provision of government services online is progressing, especially in Member States that are lagging behind. Several good examples of initiatives developed in Member States whether at national, regional or local level of the administrations are significant steps towards efficient and effective Digital Public Services in Europe.
The eIDAS 2018 Municipalities Project in the Netherlands is one of the early implementations of the mutual recognition principle of European eIDs to access publicservices introduced by the eIDAS regulation. It enables citizens of EU Member States and EEA countries to electronically prove their identity with their nationally issued eID when seeking access to around 300 services in 81 municipalities across the country
In Italy, the new Public System for Digital Identity Management (SPID, Sistema Pubblico per la gestione dell'Identità Digitale di cittadini e imprese) will provide access to e-government services to citizens and companies alike. And, being notified SPID under eIDAS, citizens will be able to use their identity credentials to access public services everywhere in the EU.
Denmark’s Digital Post allows citizens to correspond electronically with public authorities. Examples include letters from hospitals, pension statements, student grant applications, and correspondence with the tax administration. Users can access Digital Post on two secure websites borger.dk and e-boks.dk.
We can be satisfied about this progress but not complacent. The digital transformation of government requires constant effort and ambition. It requires also early preparation of the future. At the European Commission we have started shaping our vision for the years beyond 2020 with the horizon of 2030.
To raise awareness about our achievements and initiate the debate two important events are taking place in Vienna:
- the Once-Only Principle for Europe Conference on 24/25 September
- and the High Level Conference on Digital and E-Government on 26 September
They show the growing interest and demand for a permanent dialogue between stakeholders to envision how the digital transformation of public services will shape up and deliver value to citizens and businesses. Such a permanent dialogue will drive the digital and cultural transformation of the public sector putting our Citizens and businesses at the heart of the public service provision of tomorrow.
They are organized on the eve of an important milestone for the digitisation of public services in Europe. On 29 September, the eIDAS Regulation rules on cross border recognition of electronic identification means enter into force. Currently, around 450 million European citizens in 90% of EU countries as well as companies in many countries are or will soon be able to use trusted eIDs to securely access online public services at National level. But only if all Member States come forward and notify to the Commission and other Member States the eID schemes they recognise at National level, these schemes can apply across the EU and citizens and companies can use their eID abroad. This will have a tangible impact on the trust and security online of European citizens and companies and in particular SMEs.
Germany and Italy are the two EU countries that have completed their notification procedure. Croatia, Estonia, Luxembourg and Spain have just presented the official notification of their eIDs, among which there are also mobile eIDs, and publication to the Official Journal of the EU will happen soon.
More recently, Belgium, Portugal and the United Kingdom have come forward and initiated the pre-notification procedure.
The new eID regime will also stimulate new innovative authentication services. According to a recent GSMA report, it could create a market for authentication, authorisation and attributed services of more than $2.47 billion by 2022.
On 29 September, Europe will make a big leap towards a safer and more trustworthy online environment. Digital solutions can greatly contribute to strengthening the trust of citizens in governments. Let’s work together, public and private stakeholders, across domains and sectors to turn this milestone into a new start and the seed for a regular and participatory “eGov week” across the EU.