In a digital single market, public services should be digital, open and cross-border by design. As part of the eGovernment Action Plan, public administrations and public institutions should be providing borderless user-friendly and end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses by 2020.

Two Commission studies highlight how collaborative and digitally-based Open eGovernment Services (OGS) can enhance transparency and responsiveness in citizens' dealings with administration, build trust across sectors and provide better public services.

The studies provide a valuable information base and could inspire current and future activities under the European Commission e-Government Action Plan 2016-2020, in particular those related to facilitating digital interaction between administrations and citizens/businesses.

The emergence of Open Government in Member States

The study "Towards faster implementation and uptake of open government" maps 395 inspiring examples of Open eGovernment Services across Europe. This wealth of data and practices, is proof of successful cooperation between public administrations, companies, organizations and citizens. It demonstrates how the process of digitalisation can create better opportunities for everyone and shows concretely how to make it happen. The European Commission will give visibility to these best practices, support the policy processes and invest in digital innovation in the public sector.

Openness between public administrations

This is mostly driven by administrations seeking better efficiency and cost reduction. For example, applying once-only principle - under which people and businesses provide information only once to public authorities - may result in increasingly automated exchanges. For example,

  • By applying the once-only principle, the Spanish government saved € 2.8 million (costs of exchange of paper documents between administrations) by introducing SIR (System of Interconnection of Registers).
  • In the Netherlands, public administrations share among them the data hosted in 12 existing base registers., This helps to speed up administrative processes and citizens or companies no longer need to provide the same information time and again.
  • Agiv, the agency for geographical information in Flanders (Belgium) has a central platform KLIP where administrations share the location of underground cables and pipes, helping thus companies to plan construction works. Its services were requested 100.000 times during the first six months after its launch.

Openness towards third parties

Openess towards third parties aims at increasing transparency and responsiveness and even participation in decision-making, for instance,

  • Greek citizens use the Vouliwatch platform to publicly question government officials and share their own expertise;
  • More and more cities foresee that citizens can have a say about how their money gets spent. The residents of Madrid vote online on 2% of city budget and those of Paris even on 5% of municipal expenses and can suggest projects within these financial limits; the inhabitants of Southern Italy submit formal web-based evaluations of public services and infrastructure thanks to cooperation of administration with the third sector.
  • OpenSpending, an initiative by the Open Knowledge Foundation, contains datasets  on public administrations expenditure in 76 countries so that citizens can see how authorities spend taxpayers' money. Moreover, it allowed the UK government to save  £ 4 million in only 15 minutes by simply comparing markets for different services.

Open government can also unlock economic potential for growth and jobs, for example,

  • The Belgian Mercurius e-invoicing and e-procurement platform which allows all levels of administrations and businesses to cooperate and reduces the costs of invoices for companies by 62% (with expected 4,5 M € of savings per year)
  • The Dutch Base Register Topography works as open data for anyone interested and has developed TopoGPS , a GPS application, based on data from the base registry, with an economic effect estimated at €9 million.
  • The British NHS Job Platform, now used by 500 NHS employers,  is a focal point for job seekers in the medical sector. Also in the UK, TransportAPI aggregates and analyses public transport data, allowing users and developers to access the transport data opened up by public transportation bodies and to work on their own applications.

Numerous initiatives also support inclusion:

  • Konto Bariery uses accessibility data for an app-based map of buildings accessible to disabled people in Czech Republic and the non-profit
  • Techfugees is an initiative organised by tech professionals that makes engineers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, public administrations collaborate in order to provide innovative technology solutions to help refugees.

Enablers, drivers and barriers for Open Government

The study looks furthermore at the make or break factors which can make open government a success. The digital enablers embrace authentic sources and open data, reusable or shared solution building blocks, standards and technical specifications. Open eGovernment can needs tech innovations such as e-identity, possibility of signing remotely (e-Signature, electronic documents and accounting (e-Invoicing, e-Delivery and e-Documents).

Furthermore, specific drivers identified for open government include democratic aspects, better quality of service and enhanced user experience, high social benefits and public value, cost efficiency, economic growth and jobs as well as mobility and demand from civil society and/or business associations. There are however many barriers, such as: lack of leadership and financial resources, institutional vacuum, skills gap, uncertainties regarding sustainability and legal situation as well as unclear standards and specifications.

Three OGS clusters vital for success: human, administrative services and  participatory policy-making

The study Analysis of the value of new generation of eGovernment services identifies three clusters of public administration where open government services are most valuable: human services (mostly to citizens providing concrete support, such as health, education, and culture); administrative services,  necessary to the functioning of government as well as participatory services/policymaking (open, participatory decision-making services). Although they have varied levels of costs, different timelines for success and play diverse roles in the trust building process, it is through the interaction of these three clusters that OGS can flourish for the benefit of all.


The eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 sets out a vision for public administrations to be open, efficient and inclusive and identifies 'openness and transparency' as one of its underlying principles. The Action Plan's main policy priorities build on the realisation of the open government concept and put forward concrete measures for public administrations to break down existing silos, open up and share assets - making data, services and decisions open – between all parties, thereby enabling collaboration on public service design and delivery and increasing participative forms of policy making.

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