In line with the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe there has been increased attention placed on boosting competitiveness through interoperability and effective communication between service users, devices and data systems. A key component of this is cross-border connectivity, and the idea that online e-government services should be capable of interacting with one another.

The European Interoperability Framework sets out guidelines as to how this can be achieved and is due to be updated this year – according to the Digital Single Market roadmap. In terms of E-governance, Member states have developed at differing rates over time. As such, more work needs to be done to get internet participation rates, digital literacy and broadband speeds up to a high standard across the EU28.

Improving efficiency with ‘Only Once’

Online public services are associated with an improvement in service quality and access to services. In this vein, the EC will launch a pilot programme for the ‘Only Once’ principle this year. This is heralded as a highly efficient solution for public authorities, as it means that they would be able to reuse information about citizens or businesses already in their possession – therefore never having to ask for this information again.

From public procurement to e-procurement

As it stands public procurement in the EU represents a staggering 20% of total EU GDP, moving towards e-procurement would look to save approximately €50bn annually. Governments across Europe already make use of ICT, but e-government represents a step beyond providing online information for citizens. Online cross-border public services require interaction with and knowledge of the service user. E-government has so far proved to be extremely efficient in terms of monetary savings. Italy, for example, has saved over €3bn since adopting e-procurement systems.

The United Kingdom has also been taking steps towards the expansion of digital inclusion and is increasingly targeting at-risk groups such as older people, and people with disabilities. The National Health Service has also branched into online services with myhealthlocker allowing service users to track their recovery and wellbeing.

What does the future hold?

According to Pillar VII ‘ICT-enabled benefits for EU society’ of the Europe 2020 strategy, ICT will positively affect a reduction in energy consumption, support for ageing citizens, health services, and the delivery of better public services. While there is some uncertainty around the form these new services will take, the CLIPS project is one example of an EC pilot project. It aims to create a Cloud of public services to aid with the delivery of flexible public services.

Heralding this new frontier in online public services, Jasmin Battista, Member of Cabinet in the Digital Single Market at the European Commission will deliver an address on this topic at the 23rd European Social Services Conference titled ‘The Digital Single Market; Empowering citizens, communities and government to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth.’