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EIF - European Interoperability Framework for pan-European eGovernment services

    Today’s Information Age offers the possibility of communication across borders. The need to standardise and allow for interoperability is growing. National administrations have developed (or are in the process of developing) Governmental Interoperability Frameworks for efficient communication between themselves as well as with citizens and businesses. IDABC is complementing this work by adding the pan-European dimension in providing the European Interoperability Framework v.1.0 issued in November 2004. This document is currently under revision.

Last update: June 2009

What is the European Interoperability Framework?
How does it work?
Who benefits?
The role of IDABC
Technical information

What is the European Interoperability Framework v.1.0?

Interoperability means working together - collaboration of systems, services and people. When people work together, they need to communicate and make agreements. They need to agree on the tasks they will perform and how they will exchange results. If their nationality is different, they also need to agree on the language in which they will communicate. Moreover, they need to overcome cultural and legal differences.

An Interoperability Framework can be defined as the overarching set of policies, standards and guidelines which describe the way in which organisations have agreed, or should agree, to do business with each other. An Interoperability Framework is, therefore, not a static document and may have to be adapted over time as technologies, standards and administrative requirements change.

Administrations that provide electronic services (eServices) are faced with the same situation, they need to elaborate a set of agreements on a large number of issues, considering organisational, semantic and technical aspects. For example, when administrations exchange data, they must ensure that each party shares the same meaning of the data (semantic interoperability): for instance, when referring to 'price', do we mean the actual price or the price per item? The European Interoperability Framework addresses these issues in order to facilitate the interoperability of eGovernment services at pan-European level.

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The European Interoperability Framework supports the European Union's strategy of providing user-centred eGovernment services by facilitating, at a pan-European level, the interoperability of services and systems between public administrations, as well as between administrations and the public (citizens, businesses). It is an action of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan, under the eGovernment heading.

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How does it work?

During the eGovernment conference held at Como (Italy) on 7-8 July 2003 under the Italian Presidency, the Ministers recognised that interoperability is the key condition to developing pan-European eGovernment services, and that, in order to reach such interoperability, an agreed European Interoperability Framework constitutes a necessary condition.

The European Interoperability Framework is based on the premise that each Member State has, or is in the process of developing, its national Government Interoperability Framework (GIF). Consequently, the European Interoperability Framework focuses on supplementing rather than replacing, National Interoperability Frameworks by adding the pan-European dimension. By providing recommendations and defining generic standards with regard to organizational, semantic and technical aspects of interoperability, it offers a comprehensive set of principles for European cooperation in eGovernment.

The document represents the highest-ranking module of a comprehensive methodological tool kit for implementing pan-European eGovernment services. It will be further developed parallel to the progress and the emerging requirements of pan-European infrastructures and services.

The EIF is supplemented by the well-established IDABC Architecture Guidelines that approach interoperability from a more technical and pragmatic viewpoint. The IDABC Architecture Guidelines - and other documents foreseen in the IDABC Work Programme - aim at practical guidance and the building of common standards and infrastructures needed for the implementation of interoperability.

Considering the rapid rate of developments in technology, the National Interoperability Frameworks need to be updated promptly and regularly. This also holds for the European Interoperability Framework and related documents which will be regularly updated in a institutionalized consultation process with the Member States.

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The European Interoperability Framework v.1.0 has been prepared by the Commission in collaboration with a group of experts from the Member States. The final EIF Version 1.0 was approved by the TAC, IDA’s high-level steering committee, in October 2004, and first published on the IDA website in November 2004.

A first update of the EIF is currently under revision.

With the end of the ISA programme in 2010, activities regarding the EIF are continued under the ISA programme. Several revisions of the EIF have taken place in the meantime. The latest version you can find here.

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Who benefits?

The European Interoperability Framework covers the exchange of information at a pan-European level between:

  • administrations, citizens and businesses;
  • administrations and other administrations.

Member States that wish to interoperate at a multilateral, pan-European level and make their services available to citizens and businesses in other Member States should use the guidance and recommendations provided by this Framework and incorporate the relevant aspects in their National Framework. As a consequence, the ultimate beneficiaries will be citizens and businesses who need the provision of such eServices from governments at a pan-European level.

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The role of IDABC

IDABC is directly responsible for the funding and execution of this action, for which the IDABC unit works in close collaboration with the Member States, industry experts and other stakeholders.

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Technical Information

Project start date


Project completion date


IDA budget

IDABC budget

2003-2004 € 240,830

2006-2008 € 560,000

Responsible service

DG Informatics - IDABC Unit

Project coordinator

Serge Novaretti


Countries involved

All EU Member States

Documentation on the European Interoperability Framework

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