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IP/09/967

Brussels, 19 June 2009

Completing administrative procedures electronically: European Commission to boost cross-border services by means of up-to-date technology

The European Commission will co-finance a project driven by Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland helping public administrations to improve online services for the service sector. By the end of 2009, each EU Member State will have established points of single contact where companies can complete administrative procedures electronically. While it will allow for example a Belgian service provider to complete all the necessary formalities to open a café in the Netherlands online, the pilot project will work on further enhancing the quality of electronic procedures. More than € 14 million will be invested over three years into the pilot project, half of which will come from the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

"Investment in the latest information technologies is the right tool to help cooperation between public administrations and make it easier for businesses to access markets in other Member States," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "Providing services online and without red tape will allow European businesses to expand to new markets, boosting trade within the EU. The result will contribute to more growth and more jobs in the single market."

Services are the main driver of growth and jobs in Europe, representing 70% of EU's GDP. In recent years they have been the source of 95% of all new jobs created. While goods are already freely traded in the EU, the Internal Market for services has not yet reached its full potential. Legal and administrative barriers are still making it difficult for service providers to establish themselves in other countries or trade across borders.

The pilot project launched by the European Commission working with Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, and Poland will develop new technical solutions for enhancing the quality of electronic cross-border services provided by public administrations. Contact points, where companies can complete all procedures and formalities in one place, will be set up in each Member State by the end of 2009. Building on those, the pilot project is designed to make the different approaches used in EU countries compatible. It will foster the use of electronic services and the development of common requirements, set common standards for secure transactions across the EU, and build upon best practices, open specifications and user-friendly solutions.

Background:

The pilot project, called "Simple Procedures Online for Cross-border Services" (SPOCS), is a large scale pilot project (LSP) co-funded by the European Commission's Information Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme which stimulates innovation and competitiveness through the wider take-up and the best use of communications technologies by citizens, businesses and governments. This programme is part of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme which aims at encouraging the competitiveness of European enterprises and has a budget of more than  3,6 billion for the period from 2007 to 2013 ( IP/05/391 ).

Under the EU Services Directive , by end of 2009, all EU Member States have to establish points of single contact, through which service providers can easily obtain all relevant information and complete all necessary procedures electronically, without having to contact several administrative or professional bodies.

Large scale pilot projects are driven by participating countries and focus on enabling technology-based solutions for cross-border services at national, regional and local level. They are launched to find common specifications to be further developed and disseminated, enabling different national solutions to communicate and interact, so that citizens and businesses can enjoy the full benefits of the Single Market.

The project is based upon previous work done by other large scale projects which enable EU citizens to use their electronic identity and to access public services wherever they are in Europe ( IP/08/824 ) and a project enabling businesses to compete for public sector contracts across Europe online ( IP/08/785 ). In 2008 the Commission also launched the Smart Open Services (SOS) project on sharing medical information across borders ( IP/08/1075 ).

eGovernment: http://ec.europa.eu/egovernment

ICT Policy Support Programme:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/ict_psp

The European Commission Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme: http://ec.europa.eu/cip/index_en.htm

EU Services Directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/services-dir/index_en.htm


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