TOOP (The Once-Only Principle) is an EU-funded large-scale pilot project working to make interactions with government bodies easier. It is piloting the use of technical infrastructure enabling the cross-border application of the “once-only” principle in the EU – the idea that people and businesses should need to supply their data to public bodies only once, and that administrations should take action to share and reuse this data internally, while respecting data protection rules.
While many EU countries have already started to implement the principle in public administrations, only a few cross-border services are applying it. Enabling digital services across borders is a key part of the European Commission’s Single Digital Gateway, and the TOOP project focuses on the requirements of businesses in particular.
The project is part of the EU’s eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020: it has been estimated that extending the “once-only” principle to EU level could result in annual net savings of as much as EUR 5 billion per year. It is focused on enabling more efficient exchanges of business-related data and documents with and between public administrations, and on reducing the administrative burden for both businesses and public administrations. It has set up pilot initiatives in three areas. The first, cross-border e-services for business mobility, is about developing government services that make it easier to do business across borders. The second, updating connected company data, concerns national business registers: changes to a business in one country will have to be reported by a register to similar services in other countries.
Finally, online ship and crew certificates in the maritime industry is an initiative to convert paper certificates into online documents and make them available to police, port authorities and border guards across Europe. In addition to these pilots, TOOP’s results will be essential in setting up the technical infrastructure for the cross-border exchange of legal evidence, in accordance with the recently adopted EU Single Digital Gateway.
TOOP in brief
- Total budget: EUR 8 306 411.29 (EU contribution: EUR 7 996 708.17)
- Duration: 01/2017-06/2019
- Countries involved: Estonia (coordinator), Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey.
Key figures in the European Union
- The project brings together 51 organisations from 21 EU Member States and Associated Countries.
- It also works with the EU-funded SCOOP4C project, which is exploring how the “once-only” principle can be used to give citizens a more active role in public service provision.
- In 2013, 40% of people aged 16-74 in the EU contacted or interacted with public authorities or public services online.
The European Commission’s eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020 aims to ensure that public administrations and public institutions in the EU are open, efficient and inclusive and provide borderless, personalised, secure, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses by 2020. Borderless, digital public services will make it easier to travel and work across borders, provide information that is accessible to everyone, including elderly and disabled people, meet data protection and privacy standards, and reduce the number of contact points and requests for information.
To fund this, the European Commission’s proposed new Digital Europe Programme allocates EUR 1.3 billion of funding to broaden the use of digital technologies across the EU, including the digitisation of public administrations and services.