i2010 eGovernment Action Plan
Communication from the Commission, of 25 April 2006, i2010 eGovernment Action Plan - Accelerating eGovernment in Europe for the Benefit of All [COM(2006) 173 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Action Plan stresses the importance of accelerating the introduction of eGovernment * in Europe to respond to a number of challenges and requirements:
- modernise public services and make them more effective;
- provide better-quality and more secure services to the general population;
- respond to the requests of businesses which would like less bureaucracy and more efficiency;
- ensure the cross-border continuity of public services, crucial for sustaining mobility in Europe.
eGovernment initiatives have already enabled a number of Member States to make substantial savings of both time and money. Moreover, it is estimated that a total of 50 billion euro could be saved annually if electronic invoicing were to become common practice in Europe.
Objectives of the Action Plan
The Commission aims to achieve the following with this Action Plan:
- accelerate the delivery of tangible benefits for citizens and businesses through eGovernment;
- ensure that eGovernment at national level does not create any new barriers in the internal market, e.g. due to lack of interoperability;
- extend the benefits of eGovernment to European Union (EU) level by allowing economies of scale.
The Plan identifies five priority areas:
Access for all
The spread of eGovernment should benefit everybody. For this to happen, it is necessary that disadvantaged people encounter as few obstacles as possible when accessing public services on-line.
In this fight against the digital divide, Member States have committed to ensuring that, by 2010, all citizens, including socially disadvantaged groups, become major beneficiaries of eGovernment.
The Member States have committed themselves to achieving gains in efficiency through the innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICT) * and to significantly lightening the administrative burden by 2010.
To facilitate this process, the Action Plan provides for the Member States and the Commission to put in place a system for comparatively evaluating the impact and benefit of eGovernment. Measures will also be taken to encourage greater sharing of experience.
High-impact eGovernment services
A number of services delivered across borders make a significant difference to citizens, businesses and administrations. They can consequently act as flagships for European eGovernment.
One such high-impact service is electronic public procurement. Public contracts represent 15 to 20% of GDP, i.e. about 1 500 billion euro every year in Europe. Electronic procurement could result in an annual saving of tens of billions of euro. Hence the importance of a high level of take-up of e-procurement.
The Member States have undertaken to give their public administrations the capability to carry out 100% of their procurement electronically. In particular, this means ensuring that at least 50% of procurement above the EC threshold (from 50 000 euro for simple public services to 6 000 000 euro for public works) is carried out electronically by 2010.
The Action Plan provides for a roadmap for meeting these objectives. Between 2006 and 2010, cooperation on additional high-impact eGovernment services will be agreed with the Member States.
Putting key enablers in place
To optimise eGovernment, certain key enablers need to be in place, such as:
- interoperable electronic identification management * (eID) for access to public services;
- electronic document authentication;
- electronic archiving.
The Member States have agreed to put in place by 2010 secure systems of mutual recognition of national electronic identifiers for websites and public administration services.
The Commission will contribute to these efforts, defining common specifications for the management of electronic identification and monitoring large-scale pilots of e-IDMs.
Increased participation in decision-making
ICT have great potential to involve large numbers of citizens in public debate and decision-making. Indeed, 65% of respondents to an on-line eGovernment policy poll considered that on-line democracy ("eDemocracy") can help reduce democratic deficits.
To encourage this potential, the Action Plan proposes support for projects which enhance the use of ICT with the aim of increasing public involvement in the democratic process.
This Action Plan is part of the EU's i2010 strategy, which aims to stimulate the development of the digital economy in Europe. It draws on the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the 3rd Ministerial eGovernment Conference (November 2005, Manchester, United Kingdom), which set expectations for measurable benefits from eGovernment by 2010.
|Key terms used in the act|
|eGovernment: eGovernment seeks to use information and communication technologies to improve the quality and accessibility of public services. It can reduce costs for businesses and administrations alike, and facilitate transactions between administrations and citizens. It also helps to make the public sector more open and transparent and governments more accountable and understandable to citizens.
Information and communication technologies (ICT): the term ICT covers a wide range of services, applications, technologies, devices and software, i.e. tools such as telephony and the Internet, distance learning, televisions, computers, and the networks and software required to use these technologies, which are revolutionising social, cultural and economic structures by creating new attitudes towards information, knowledge, working life, etc.
eAccessibility: eAccessibility refers to initiatives taken to ensure that all citizens have access to Information Society services. This is about removing the technical, legal and other barriers that some people encounter when using ICT-related services.
eInclusion: this concept is linked to the development of an Information Society for all, i.e. one which ensures equal access to ICT and the same availability at an affordable cost. In particular, eInclusion involves putting in place systems which allow elderly people and people with disabilities easy access to Information Society services.
Interoperability: interoperability means that several systems, whether they are identical or radically different, can communicate without ambiguity and work together.
More information is available on the " eGovernment " page of the European Commission's Thematic Portal on "Europe's Information Society".